A town centre chaplaincy in Weston Super Mare has been invited into a new venture by the local police:
The latest step has come at the request of the Police for us to provide a team of ChAt (Chaplaincy About Town) Custody Chaplains to visit any detainee at Weston-super-Mare Police Station. After months of planning and training the team, which includes both ChAt Chaplains and Street Pastors, the project was finally operational on 16 April 2012. We went to Weston Police Station for the launch at 8.00am. Before 8.30am the first detainee asked for support and I was in a cell! Less than an hour later, the detainee, who had been held for most of the night, was focussed and calm, had a plan to seek professional help on returning home, and was in a much better state of mind for the police interview.
We have these encounters at a crucial point in the life of an offender, a time of regret, remorse, shame, and a time of longing to make life-changing decisions. Through good listening and signposting the person is empowered, lives can be transformed and new beginnings made.
We come to every listening session with faith that three people are present – the speaker, the listener and God; it is His presence and peace in the session which makes these encounters different from those with other professional aid agencies.
With the Custody Chaplains as a pilot scheme in Weston-super-Mare, the Police hope it may be possible for the service to be offered in other custody suites in the Avon and Somerset area in due course.
Read the rest of it here, as told by Lead Chaplain Gill Putnam. Weston was the first place in Somerset to pilot Street Pastors, and it's good to see them pioneering this.