Providing comfort in times of crisis – 60 chaplains being trained to support Hertfordshire residents

Published: 21 Feb 2020

Community faith and pastoral leaders are being trained to ensure Hertfordshire residents receive emotional support after experiencing major, life-changing incidents.

Lessons learned from national tragedies such as Grenfell and the Manchester bombings are behind a programme ensuring the support of residents who may experience psychological trauma after major disasters.

Implemented by Hertfordshire County Council’s Public Health Department and the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Trust (HPFT), as part of the Local Health Resilience Partnership, this specialist training is being provided to 60 chaplains from a range of organisations. These include healthcare Chaplains from hospitals and hospices, as well as the police and railway services, Stansted Airport, military chaplains, churches and community organisations such as the YMCA.

Outlining the training, Professor Jim McManus, Co-Chair of Hertfordshire Local Health Resilience Partnership and Director of Public Health said: “We hope Hertfordshire will never again experience a major event such as the Hatfield and Potters Bar rail crashes in 2000 and 2002, or the Buncefield fire in 2005, but we have to be prepared should this happen.

“Getting the response right prevents damage to people and organisations. Our training identifies the issues and presents the latest research findings and best practice.

“Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care teams are ideally placed to understand and respond to traumatic incidents, and for many agencies have a dedicated role in their emergency response plans. It makes sense to build their skills and expertise in this area.”

Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Prevention, Cllr Tim Hutchings said: “Major incidents can severely impact upon the health of people and communities in a multitude of ways and for many years. Minimising the suffering of people and communities and averting the risk of emotional and psychological injury are important elements of the response to any major incident.”

As well as a wide range of faith groups taking part, there will also be counsellors from non-faith backgrounds, with the emphasis being on providing emotional support which reflects the rich diversity of the county.