A meeting is to be held in Skipton next month as part of a drive to recruit volunteers to become chaplains on the local canal network.
There are now more than 70 volunteer Waterways Chaplains across the country, walking the towpaths, visiting marinas and taking an interest in the people of our canals and rivers who live, work or simply go there to soak up the atmosphere.
Chaplains say that it has become clear that there are significant numbers of lonely and isolated people living within the restricted confines of narrow boats many of whom are cut off from society. Some may turn to drugs or alcohol, whilst others with mental health problems can easily withdraw into their boats.
The northern region is supported by Debbie Nouwen, herself a seasoned boat dweller, an Anglican Ordinand and someone with long experience of supporting people who are vulnerable. Debbie writes:
“Some of our chaplains are boat owners themselves but most are not. They come from a range of different Christian denominations and are both ordained and lay. Their commitment is to walk along a length of towpath regularly, simply talking to, and connecting with the people they meet and being ready to offer practical, emotional and spiritual support where appropriate.”
Waterways chaplains wear a distinctive gilet which immediately identifies them and they will be knowledgeable about local resources such as medical services, food banks etc. Their brief is to partner with the local church but minister outside ‘the walls of the church in order to seek out ‘the disadvantaged, the disillusioned & the disappeared’.
“Everyone is trained and supported,” says Debbie. “From my perspective this is a fascinating and eminently worthwhile way for Christian people to be involved with those who are often left out in the cold.”
She adds, “We would love to hear from you if this is something you would like to explore.
“We are holding an information event on
Tuesday 17th July @ 11.00am, Christ Church, Cross Street, Skipton BD23 2AH.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer waterways chaplain, then you would be most welcome, or for further information please contact:
Debbie M. Nouwen
Deputy Senior National Waterways Chaplain
(North of England & Midlands)
Mob: 07909 149664