Taking on the role of Multi-faith Chaplain at Alton College has been a wonderful adventure! Since I started last term, I have met a wide range of staff and students within the College, and a number of people beyond who have been kind enough to share some of their FE experiences with me. I have been working to heighten awareness of the Chaplaincy in the College, as the Chaplain is there for people of all different faiths and none, following the gospel imperative to share God’s unconditional love through word and deed. My dog collar and bright orange Chaplain’s hoodie are proving very useful! As were the scrummy GAP (Greater Alton Project) cakes that a few GAP representatives helped me to hand out to both staff and students at the end of last term, to help lift spirits after the pressures of all the external exams. Corridor pastoring with cake is definitely an effective way of reaching out!
A number of students have been coming to the weekly ‘Chox and Chat’ sessions, which became ‘Chox and Splat’ sessions over recent weeks, as the new Chaplain’s room needed a bit of brightening up, and paint splatting is too much fun to miss! We are also creating a faith tree, sharing different aspects of our faiths by hanging core ideas on the ‘tree’ in the Chaplain’s room. It is wonderful to have a Chaplain’s corner in the new Student Hub where folk can drop in as they like. Students have also begun to take up the option of booking more formal appointments with me, to help work through issues that concern them. I have also been exploring the different departments in the College with great interest! Through these types of activities I am getting to know a range of folk, and I have been encouraging them to explore their spirituality and faith, embracing the diversity that exists in our colourful community.
I was formally commissioned by Bishop Peter, Bishop of Basingstoke at the end of September, well supported by representatives of College staff and students and the GAP churches. I really appreciate all their prayers and support, and am looking forward to travelling alongside folk at the College, and seeing where the Chaplaincy will lead!