South Yorkshire chamber support for new workplace chaplaincy and listening service

Andrew Denniff, chief executive of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce,

ALL three South Yorkshire chambers of commerce have come out to support a new chaplaincy and listening service for the region – saying it will offer vital support to employees. 

Representatives from Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham, Doncaster chambers of commerce plus and the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce and the EEF, the manufacturer’s organisation, have backed the new South Yorkshire Chaplaincy and Listening Service. 

The new service, available to everyone in the workplace, irrespective of their faith, will fill a gap created by the demise of the South Yorkshire Workplace Chaplaincy last year. 

Reverend Baz Gascoyne and his wife Rev. Linda Gascoyne will run the service, building on existing active initiatives – the Sheffield Sports Chaplaincy and Sheffield Listening Services. 

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The world seems to be moving at a faster and faster pace which has enormous consequences on businesses and people who work in them.  

“The need for a non-judgemental, listening and supportive service for employees who feel overwhelmed by these changes has never been greater.” 

Andrew Denniff, chief executive of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said: “I am sure that Chamber members are aware of the huge benefits to be gained from the provision of a non-judgemental listening service and we are happy to endorse the good work you and your colleagues do.” 

Dan Fell, chief executive officer at Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, added: “The modern business environment is challenging and demanding for employees and business leaders alike. 

“Additionally, the social, political and financial realities of contemporary life can conspire to create difficulties for communities, people and, crucially, workers. 

“Doncaster Chamber takes mental health very seriously and believes that talk therapy can play a huge role in contributing towards healthier and happier workforces and ultimately economic growth.  

“I understand that for people of all faiths, or no faith, the ability to access a friendly and supportive chaplaincy service within the place of work could have a substantial benefit.  I am therefore very happy to support this service, which could add a significant value to businesses and their employees.” 

Scott Knowles, chief executive at East Midlands Chamber of Commerce said: The pace of life seems to get faster and faster. Technology travels everywhere with us, demanding attention, particularly at work. 

“Even in more traditional industries, there is increasing stress. Every now and then, people need a release from the pressure of modern life, even if it’s just someone to talk to, and the chaplaincy and listening service, which is non-judgmental and non-sectarian, can provide that release.” 

Andy Tuscher, EEF region director Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Effective listening is a much needed requirement for any healthy, well-functioning community especially a workplace.  

“The EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, welcomes any move to encourage workplace support and wellbeing through a listening service. The need for this type of service is as pertinent as ever especially as employees face increasing pressure from all directions.” 

Baz Gascoyne said: “This level of support from business organisations is tremendous. We need organisations from across the region to get behind this initiative and spread the word about our service.”  

The current 12-strong trained team of chaplain and listeners is expected to rapidly grow into a network across the region offering visits to workplaces, bespoke listening sessions and tailor made support for employees. 

The new service will be overseen by an advisory board of trustees including Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chairman Tony Pedder and Sheffield Forgemasters’ former director Peter Birtles. 

It will cost around £35,000 per year to fund for the first five years, after which it will be self-sufficient and the board of trustees is looking for potential sponsors from interested companies and individuals. It is also looking for volunteer chaplains and listeners to help its work.


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