Jill Mayes
Norfolk's workplace chaplains offer vital support

Jill Mayes, the new Project Coordinator for Good Work, reflects on the challenges and stresses of work and the important role Workplace Chaplains play supporting employees.  

Reading the EDP the other day, I noticed an article about the unemployment figures in East Anglia having dropped slightly. ‘Hurrah’, I thought, before reading on to discover that more men are actually out of work. Oh dear.

Work - one of the most used four-letter words on the planet.  Love it or hate it, it’s something that most of us engage with at some point during our lives spending a large portion of each day toiling away. Some of us are satisfied and fulfilled by our work, others demoralised and miserable; some are well-paid, others barely earn a living wage. Work is rarely separated from the rest of our lives and, unless you can compartmentalise things very well, one often impacts the other.

As a former education professional, I well understand the need for space between the two, but I can’t honestly say I’ve not come home from work upset by something that happened or gone in to work thinking about a problem from home. I hope I was able to manage well and not let this impact too much on my work with pupils and colleagues, but I couldn’t promise that was always the case.

We are human, not perfect, not cushioned from our environments, but living, breathing, emotional beings.

So, where do we turn when we need a listening ear? Or a friendly face? Or a non-judgmental opinion? Or even a hug? We may not want to share with a colleague or go to the boss, perhaps they’re the issue!

As a person of faith, I’d pray, talk to God, but I also need human support, a word of encouragement, a nod of sympathy, a hand on the shoulder or a ‘well done.’

This is where Workplace Chaplaincy can be helpful. Wouldn’t it be great to know that there was someone impartial who’d just listen?

Someone who could help point me in a positive direction, whether that’s a word with the boss, or suggesting a visit to the GP; someone who can just be there to share the joys, sorrows, successes and failures.

In these days of economic uncertainty, employers and employees suffer numerous stresses. Workplace Chaplains are usually people of faith who visit the workplace at an agreed time and make themselves available to listen, to support, to encourage and to help. Their aim is to serve their local community, not push their personal beliefs.

There are lots of chaplains in Norfolk, but there’s room for so many more. Wouldn’t it be fantastic for all workplaces to have someone who cares about everyone without reserve? To give a friendly smile, a handshake, a listening ear or a ‘congratulations’?

I challenge you, in the coming week, to find out if your place of work has a Chaplain. Find out who they are and when they visit, then make a point of saying hello; they’ll be delighted to meet you!

Jill Mayes is the Good Work Project Coordinator. If you would like to find out more about workplace chaplaincy get in touch with Jill by email at

Published: 14/11/2018