I’ve been involved with Derby City Centre Chaplaincy since it began in February 2010. I’m Associate Priest at St. Peter’s in the City, the church opposite British Home Stores in Derby City Centre – so it made a lot of sense to start off close to home and become chaplain to BHS! It was a good place to be….the staff were warm and welcoming, and it was a great opportunity to chat with people about the challenges and joys of everyday life, and to offer to pray for them if they wanted that.

ANITA MATTHEWSAfter a few months, another chaplain joined the team who was keen to get involved at BHS. At the same time, we were building up a friendship with a charity called Rathbone (our neighbours in the other direction, on St. Peter’s Churchyard). Rathbone works to support and encourage young people in education, training and apprenticeships, and at a time when finding work is a huge challenge, it seemed a great opportunity to offer friendship and support, “Would you like a Chaplain?” we asked tentatively. The answer was a very definite “Yes!” and I began visiting on a regular basis, getting to know staff and students, planning community events together such as a Big Lunch in St. Peter’s Churchyard to celebrate the Jubilee, and a Careers/Vocations Day in partnership with Connexions. I even got involved with some teaching (I’ve worked in education in the past) and it was great to do an Easter Project with some of the young people which led to some fascinating conversations about faith and spirituality.

My time at Rathbone was a very fulfilling time….but after a year or so a new Chaplain joined the team with gifts and experience in working with young people, and I moved from Rathbone to take on a chaplaincy role at Bishop Lonsdale Primary School. I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the school community with its ups and downs, getting to know staff and to support them whenever I can….as well as brushing up my primary teaching skills!

Derby City Centre Chaplaincy is a team effort, and we all bring different passions, experience and gifts to the mix. The most important passion is the one we all share – whether we’re working in retail, sport, education, social care, entertainment, or business – to reach out to people where they are, in the midst of everyday pressures, and to walk with them in their journey of life (and, sometimes, their journey of faith).  If you have a heart for young people and those who work with them, and you think God might be calling you to get involved with education chaplaincy, do get in touch! Who knows where it will lead?