We've moved!

We have moved to our lovely new office!

You can now find us at:

St Mary’s Church

Church Street

Watford WD18 0EG

 

All our contact details, our email address and telephone numbers, remain the same.

 

Pop in to meet us and find out more about what we do!

Making Space for Sadness

Did you know about the Space for Sadness the Chaplaincy provided on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?  Making space for people who feel sad to spend time together might not sound very appealing, especially on occasions advertised as moments of celebration.  But of course, many people’s family life doesn’t match up to the ideal.  Bereavement, estrangement, abuse, or simply distance separating parents from children can cause sadness.  And this can be harder to bear when families around you are celebrating, and retailers and restaurants all across the town centre are advertising whatever they can offer to make Mother’s Day or Father’s Day happy.

At a Space for Sadness, it’s OK to feel sad about the occasion for any reason, and to talk about that or to choose to keep your story private.  Nice refreshments are available.   Flowers are provided to place in a vase marked: For my father, or a vase marked: For my child.  No explanation need be given, but the Chaplain is on hand to listen if anyone wants to discuss what’s upsetting them, talk about their parents or children, or simply chat for distraction if that could help.  There’s a journal to write what you remember, hope for, or plan to do next.  On Mother’s Day, participants made Mother’s Day cards which better expressed their personal experiences than the mass-produced cards in the shops, and on Father’s Day, there were templates headed Sorry I Missed You, where participants could write or draw what they miss or missed in their relationship with their dad or relationship with their children. 

People came and shared their experiences, but we also believe that the flyers we delivered by hand to local businesses and displayed on community notice-boards let even more people know that someone understood that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be difficult days, that it’s OK to feel sad when something is wrong in family relationships, and that help and support is available in Watford town centre from our Chaplaincy.

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Watford Rising

This coming weekend, the streets of Watford town centre are expected to be crowded with football fans celebrating Watford FC playing in the FA Cup final at Wembley.  No doubt there’ll be many Man City fans around, too, staying in our hotels, or dropped off by coaches to make the remainder of the journey into Wembley by train.  O’Neill’s (which has recently taken over The Flag) by Watford Junction station is expected to be especially busy, as is the intu atrium and Cassiobury Park, where the match can be watched on big screens.  Plenty of our town centre pubs are also showing the game.  So why not come into town on Saturday afternoon, soak up the atmosphere of hope and expectation, and join in the fun and celebration? 

Our Street Angels will be around overnight on Saturday around the bars, pubs, and clubs to help out anyone who’s commiserating, or whose post-match celebrations haven’t quite gone to plan!  Seek them out if you need their help, or find them at their big orange bus. 

In amongst the pre-match hype, in recent weeks our daytime Chaplains have noticed the streets getting busier as the sun shines for longer every day.  Two Bank Holiday weekends have brought more customers into town centre shops, and events programmes such as the BID food and drink week, intu’s school holiday activities, and concerts in the newly reopened town centre church St Mary’s have begun again.  It’s as if we’re all waking up to the Spring, and emerging from Winter hibernation.  In this 2019 Easter season, Watford is rising!

Well done to all Street Angels on New Year's Eve!

We received this wonderful tweet from Watford TC Police!

“Thank you for all your help last night. It was very much appreciated and you were all very busy. Watford is very lucky to have such committed people willing to give up their time suppprting others. Happy new year.”

Well done to all the Street Angels who were volunteering on New Year’s Eve!

Happy New Year

Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.  Matthew 11:28

 

Frances Novillo, our Lead Chaplain, writes: Who knows what 2019 will bring?  There are dates in the diary which will be meaningful to us individually, birthdays and anniversaries; dates which matter to our local and church communities; and significant dates for our whole country, the effects of which will unfold over coming months.  Perhaps this year you are expecting a baby, planning a wedding, moving house or changing job.  In the Chaplaincy we are planning a training course for all volunteers; the essential training sessions take place on Tuesdays 5th, 12th, and 26th February, and Saturday 2nd March.  These dates are in the diary; already known to us.

But there will be significant dates in 2019 as yet unknown to us, whose impacts are unpredictable and unexpected.  I was thriving in 2018 until Wednesday 14th November when I fell in the street which limited my movement for weeks to walking only slowly when absolutely necessary.  While I have found the experience very frustrating, I have also wondered if God has been inviting me to slow down, to rush less.  The Chaplain’s ministry (and our Street Angels are our night-time Chaplains) is described as a ministry of presence, of ‘loitering with intent’ somewhere where people notice us and can ask for our help, of moving in a way which appears interruptable by anyone who wants to stop us for a chat.  Striding forward purposefully can feel satisfying to us, but can actually make it difficult for people who might need chaplaincy support to access that, even as we walk right past them.  

While I’ve been struggling to move, to shop, unable to drive, finding it difficult to pick things up from the floor, I’ve also found it difficult to know who to ask for help.  If I ask, will people feel obliged to help even if they’re busy, or feel guilty for saying no?  I wouldn’t want that.  Maybe these feelings are helping me empathise with people in need who find it difficult to approach a Street Angel or Chaplain to express their need.  I hope my unexpected experience of injury and slow recovery will have a lasting positive impact helping me be more attentive to those around me who might want help but feel afraid to ask for it, and those who are reaching out for help.  Even after I’ve recovered I hope I remember to move slowly enough to notice everyone and everything God wants me to see and respond to.

Let’s make 2019 a year in which we are attentive in both times we have prepared for and events which affect us unexpectedly.  This year may we better notice the needs around us, including our own needs, and be receptive to those who want to help us and others with us.  May God bless the Chaplaincy this year with:
 

     - more volunteers willing to serve the town centre by day and at night, 
     - positive working relationships with local businesses, civic and statutory
       organisations,
     - sufficient money to meet our immediate needs and secure the future of
        the charity,
     - an ever-increasing awareness of God’s attentiveness to our needs which
        we may then emulate in serving others.

May we walk in God’s favour, and share every blessing we receive from Him with others.  Have a very happy New Year!

AGM 2018

You are invited to the Annual General Meeting of Watford Town Centre Chaplaincy at St Mary’s Church on Tuesday 9th October 2018 at 7.30pm.  Come and find out more about the Chaplaincy as we move into a new chapter: recruiting more Street Angels and daytime Chaplains, arranging meetings with churches and groups who are interested in supporting the Chaplaincy, planning volunteer training for the New Year, and more … Meet our new Lead Chaplain, Frances Novillo, and ask your questions about what’s happening as our town and its Chaplaincy are renewed and refreshed by change and development.  It would be helpful if you could let us know if you’re coming by emailing office@watfordtcc.org or calling the office on 01923 227700.  Thank you - see you there!

Getting Started

Reflections from Frances Novillo, our new Lead Chaplain:

It's been three weeks (and a bit) since I started working as your Lead Chaplain here in Watford Town Centre.  I've met many of the Street Angels and their amazing Team Leaders who have kept the project running over the years.  I've heard from other agencies in the town, including the police and other charities, how valued the contribution of Street Angels is overnight at the weekends when our pubs and clubs are thriving.  We certainly had plenty to keep us busy on A-Level results night, celebrating with those who'd made their grades, providing slippers to some who could walk in high heels no longer, and helping into taxis one or two who'd maybe had a bit too much fun!  I've made contact with other organisations who provide chaplaincy in Watford, including Railway Mission UK, Sports Chaplaincy UK, YMCA, and Watford General Hospital, to pool our experience and learn from one another.  And I've found out more about how daytime Chaplains can add value to local businesses and retailers as they seek to support the well-being of their staff.  I'm drawing on the experience of similar chaplaincy services elsewhere, including Aylesbury Town Centre Chaplaincy, Bluewater, and Canary Wharf. 

I'd love to hear from you if you want to join our growing team of volunteers from a diverse range of local churches, as a Street Angel out and about overnight, or as a daytime Chaplain visiting local shops and businesses in the town centre.  As our town centre expands, may our chaplaincy service expand likewise.

Introducing Frances

Frances begins work at Watford Town Centre Chaplaincy on 30 July and will initially be working 30 hours a week.

Frances has been a lay minister in the Roman Catholic Church for over 20 years and comes to the Watford Town Centre Chaplaincy from working as a chaplain for Hertfordshire Police and the Luton & Dunstable Hospital. 

We are looking forward to getting to know her and working with her here in Watford. I’m sure you will have the opportunity to meet her soon!

What do we see?

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:26

What do we see?

When we are in Watford’s town centre what do we see? Are the building works a nuisance or are we excited about the potential of the intu extension? When we see someone sleeping in a shop doorway, do we ignore them or do we wish you could help? Are we frustrated by the busyness and the crowds or do we spot the individual who looks like they need to talk? Do we see a young drunk woman stumbling out of a club vomiting or do we see someone lonely, lost and searching for a love that never lets go?

How do we then respond to what we see around us? Do we act with kindness, patience and compassion? Do we turn to the Lord in prayer and bring before him those who are suffering? Do we get involved practically through becoming a town centre chaplain or a Street Angel?

Next time, you’re in the town centre, I’d encourage you to take a moment or two to stop, look around and ask God for his perspective on what you see - and then use that to fuel your prayers.

Let’s ask God to give us his compassion for the people who live, work, play and shop in Watford’s town centre.

Our vision

Slowly, we are seeing the new developments in Watford’s town centre take shape. After many months of demolition, dust and debris, the architectural structures and frameworks of the intu extension are visible. There is obviously still a long way to go but there is excitement growing at the town’s transformation.

The Watford Observer recently reported that the extension to intu (due to open autumn 2018) will create a 1.4 million square foot retail and leisure destination and Hertfordshire Life states that the rejuvenated shopping centre will bring Watford into ‘the independent CACI UK retail rankings’ top 20, confirming it as a premier shopping destination’. Jonathan Field of Watford BID says that ‘Watford is a town worth investing in’.

In a similar way, Watford Town Centre Chaplaincy is going through its own period of re-building. Just as the physical developments in the town centre are not complete yet, the Chaplaincy itself is still in the process of ‘building works’.

The psalmist wrote ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain’, The Watford Town Centre Chaplaincy trustees have been through a period of prayerfully seeking God’s will for the direction and vision of the charity. Our deep desire is for the Lord to ‘build the house’.

The secular world is investing in Watford’s town centre. How will we, the people of God, respond to the fresh challenge of town centre mission and ministry?

 

Meeting on 16th May

All are welcome at a general meeting on 16th May at 6.30pm at St Mary's Church, Watford. Come and be inspired by the vision God has laid on our heart for the next season of the Chaplaincy!