Taunton Foodbank – now has a donation box located in the chaplaincy offices in the Market House in the town centre. Please drop your donated food in the tray just inside the chaplaincy front door whenever it is open.
Rail Responders – A new team of Christian Volunteers are on track to brighten travellers’ journeys
A new partnership between the British Transport Police, GWR and volunteers drawn from Taunton’s local churches has been launched to provide additional support to passengers at Taunton Station.
‘Rail Responders’ will patrol the railway station and the surrounding area seeking to offer a caring, listening and reassuring presence. Their approach is to reach out to people in moments of crisis, to offer compassion and understanding. The new team is an initiative of Taunton Team Chaplaincy which has a good record of community engagement and support for over eight years. Its volunteer chaplains currently serve in Care Homes, Retail premises, Offices and Public spaces. Fourteen local volunteers have received training and during the spring of 2018 they will start to patrol the station and surrounding environment.
T/Supt Mark Cleland, Sub Divisional Commander of the British Transport Police C Division (Western) has welcomed the development, saying:
‘I’m really pleased to welcome on board these 14 new volunteers as part of Taunton Rail Responders. These team members will offer a reassuring presence to the travelling public and are ready to help any vulnerable passengers on the station.’
Volunteers who have received training in listening skills from the Samaritans will wear a distinctive uniform labelled ‘Rail Responders’. This distinctive royal blue coloured clothing avoids confusion with enforcement agencies and assists the volunteers to engage and interact in an informal manner. Working in teams of three or four, the volunteers will each patrol at least once a month, generally in the evenings and at weekends.
Similar schemes elsewhere in the UK have brought the added bonus of a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour on and near the stations they visit.
GWR’s station manager for Taunton, Tracy McCarthy, expressed the company’s support for the new initiative:
‘GWR is pleased to welcome these community-minded volunteers and looks forward to a productive partnership which will enhance the experience of all our customers, and help to ensure a warm and friendly station environment.’
The project’s organisers are grateful for generous financial contributions from The Fairfield Charitable Trust, Somerset Community Foundation, The Avon and Somerset Police Commissioner’s Community Action Fund and GWR.
Tesco HR manager Kirsty Saul with chaplain June Morton
November 2016 - What has the 5p charge for a carrier bag got to do with chaplaincy?
Our Lead Chaplain was asked by Taunton’s local Tesco store to help evaluate the bids by environmental projects for grants from the levy on plastic bags. His encounter with the store’s management team led to a conversation about the benefits experienced by staff when a company appoints a workplace chaplain.
Many months later June Morton was welcomed as the Tesco’s first in- store chaplain. June has been making friends with many of the 261 staff members whose work ranges from the bakery to the home delivery service. June says she has been made to feel very welcome,
“Naturally, I was apprehensive at first but everyone has been so friendly and forthcoming; the response has helped me tremendously.”
June is one of a number of volunteer Taunton Team chaplains who spend a few hours each week in retail premises offering a listening ear and, when invited to do so, a prayer for anything that a staff member wants help for. Sometimes the chaplain can signpost the person to another organisation better placed to respond to a practical, health or spiritual issue.