Bradford Court Chaplaincy has been running for
a year at the Law Courts
Twelve months after Bradford courts became the
first in the country to have their own chaplaincy, they are looking
for more volunteers to expand the service.
Twenty five extra people are needed to run the service in the
Development Officer Bryan Rulton says the chaplaincy has proved
He says: "We need to expand into the crown and county courts and
we are also dealing with many people in the magistrates court."
Bryan says the volunteers need to be good listeners, and be able
to discover the root cause of why people are before the courts.
He says: "We need helpers willing to sit alongside people and
listen to them because people often just want to unload their
burdens before they go into court."
The role of the chaplaincy is to identify the needs of those at
court and point them towards someone who can help them.
Many of the people using the service have what the chaplains
describe as "lifetime baggage."
Bryan says volunteers can come from all backgrounds.
He says: "The chaplaincy is not faith-based. It deals with people
of all faiths and no faith, so it doesn't matter what your thoughts
are, or what your beliefs are"
Chaplains are stationed in the concourse of the courts, but they
don't aim to force the service onto people.
Bryan points out: "We just sit there. Most of the other agencies
on the concourse are behind a desk. We just have a poster with our
photographs saying who we are. Sometimes people are referred to us
by ushers or even the justices themselves.
"There are obviously those who don't want to be bothered, those
who say they are fine, but the offer is there. We offer the ability
to talk and have someone to listen."
Once a need is identified by the chaplains, they use a database
which has details of how agencies can be of help to people. The team
have a number of examples of where help has been given over the past
For instance, 'Amjad', a man in his mid-thirties, approached the
chaplain asking if he was a solicitor. The chaplain explained who he
was and what the chaplaincy service could offer.
Amjad then revealed that he had an alcohol problem. He disclosed
that he drank up to six litres of cider everyday. He had not been to
any agency before to seek support and said his father was also an
He stressed that, because he was a Muslim, he was very ashamed of
the state he was in and his family did not want anything to do with
him. He said he had previously led a normal life and wanted to feel
as if he belonged again. He had turned to alcohol only five years
The chaplain made an appointment for Amjad at The Piccadilly
Project, a Bradford-based organisation dealing with people who have
alcohol problems. He promised he would go immediately after leaving
the courts. The chaplain also asked him if he would come back to
court to let the chaplaincy know of his progress.
The Chaplaincy offers spiritual support
alongside the justice system
New volunteers undergo a thirteen week training course, for half
a day each week. During that time, they are given information about
the court and its procedures and are shown temples, mosques and
churches to get a sense of where people are coming from.
The chaplaincy enjoys funding from a number of charities,
Bradford Council and the West Yorkshire Methodist District. It is
held up by the Ministry of Justice as the "Bradford model".
Funding is not easy to come by according to Bryan Rulton: "More
people are going after the same money and this will happen with any
To find out more or to volunteer ring 01274 722422 during
office hours or email