We are Chaplains at Birmingham City Council.
David Harrison, Val Benjamin, Peter Sellick and Rachel Holdforth provide Independent, Confidential Chaplaincy support for all members of staff at Birmingham City Council, without regard to faith or belief background.
They are based in Lancaster Circus, Woodcock St, Sutton New Road, New Aston House and Lifford House – but are available to meet staff from other offices.
The chaplains also provide Mindfulness Meditation sessions throughout at different venues across the city.
Interfaith Week 2019
A Different View: Hope for the next step of the journey
Join with people from other faiths and backgrounds to explore our life experiences and enjoy refreshments. There will be a guided activity to reflect on some artworks representing common life events – waiting, wondering, escaping, watching.
Woodcock St: Friday 8 November 12:00-1:30pm Rm G13
Lancaster Circus: Tuesday 12 November 12:00-1:30pm Rm G01A
Contact the Chaplains
The Chaplains can be contacted via 07746 299676 or
Contact them if you would like to arrange a private conversation or seek information.
Breathing Space: Meditation Sessions using Mindfulness Techniques
Tuesdays 12:30-1pm 1st Floor Faith Room (near the Kitchen area)
Thursdays 12:30-1pm Rm 212 usually (contact firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm venue information)
Lifford House, Stirchley:
Alternate Wednesdays 12:30-1pm (contact email@example.com to confirm date and venue information)
Erdington: Sutton New Road.
Alternate Tuesdays 12:30-1pm (contact firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm dates and venues)
The Chaplains run these 25 min ‘Breathing Space Meditation’ sessions for people of all faiths and no faith; using Mindfulness techniques to learn to refresh your mind in a busy day. You are welcome to come along and try these out as and when meetings / work permits. Council staff have told us that they find them useful for unwinding and releasing the stress of daily work: eg “I am sleeping much better and am less tense at work”. The sessions are open to people of all faith and none.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment: in the offices, we use a form of Body Meditation which focusses on our breathing or our bodies. This helps us to let go of our thoughts and concerns about the past or the future. Regular practising of mindfulness helps with managing the stress of responsibilities by being more aware of the ‘whole picture’.
Mindfulness exercises have been shown to have lots of benefits to body and mind for general concerns, (but it is not an attempt to resolve significant mental health issues. If necessary these should be referred to the medical services. Mindfulness may not be helpful in cases of serious depression.)
An explanatory leaflet about the Breathing Space Mindfulness sessions at the City Council is available here.
Free mindfulness guided meditations can be downloaded at freemindfulness.org.
Mindfulness is well established within the NHS as an intervention with a number of benefits.
Christian Fellowship Meetings
The following meetings are arranged for Staff prayer and encouragement, please feel free to come along or contact them for further information
Council House on Thursdays (further details contact Wynne Parry)
– Prayer meeting: Room 135 Council House; Every Thursday 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Library of Birmingham on Wednesdays (further details contact Marcia West)
– Prayer meeting: Room 715, Level 7 Every 2nd Wednesday 1:10pm-1:50pm (even week numbers on council flex rota)
Lancaster Circus on Wednesdays
– Prayer meeting: LC Room 313; Every 2nd Wednesday 8.00am – 8.45am (even week numbers on council flex rota)
> For further details contact Caroline Rhoden
– Bible study / discussion: LC Room 313: Every 2nd and 4th Wednesdays 1:15pm – 1:45pm
> For further details contact Peter Bethell or Jacqueline Shaw
David, Peter and Rachel belong to the Anglican Church. Val Benjamin is from a Pentecostal Church background. But they are all available to, and interested in, people of all faith or no faith. They have been trained and are supported by the main denominations of Christian Churches in Birmingham. They are independent volunteers in their role within the council.
David Harrison is an Authorised Lay Minister in the Church of England, and also works as a hospital chaplain. Previously he has worked in HR, Management and as a Scientist. Peter Sellick is a Priest in the Church of England and has led churches in Leeds and the Black Country. Peter has also worked as a chaplain in manufacturing industry, to the Police Service and a small enterprise. Peter trains and supports other chaplains across Birmingham and Solihull. Val Benjamin has been a Church Leader, a Mentor and a Life Coach and speaks to churches internationally. Rachel Holdforth has been a mentor to students with disabilities and has worked as a Chaplain in a residential care home.
What they offer:
Chaplains are good listeners who care about the wholebeing of people at work. They are experienced, but not qualified counsellors and will suggest other sources of support and guidance if necessary. Chaplains are available to everyone, regardless of their faith position, and are sensitive about not disturbing people at work.
The Chaplains offer ‘Breathing Space’ sessions using Mindfulness techniques, as a form of stress management – see below.
Although the Chaplains are independent from the structures of the Council, and completely confidential, they do have the support of both HR, Senior Leadership and Unions.
Chaplaincy visiting presence is mainly focussed on those working at Lancaster Circus, Woodcock St and Lifford House; but is gradually being expanded to cover other areas of council work.
Chaplains offer listening and informal support to anyone who feels they would benefit from sharing what is going on in their life – on-site, off-site or via telephone. We are an additional, proactive, service to other BCC Staff support such as www.birmingham.helpeap.com.
Chaplains also work with the Christian network groups in the council to support their faithful living.
We generally visit the offices on a Tuesday morning and meet people either informally at their desks or, by arrangement (see below), for private conversations. We walk around the floors of the office to raise our profile and to offer our availability. Conversations can range from the apparently unimportant to some of the most significant events of life.
If you would like the chaplaincy team to pray for any specific issues, you can contact us via the email address below (or by leaving a note in the Prayer Request Box at Woodcock St Ground Floor Book Library). Any prayer requests submitted will be treated confidentially; but will be shared in an anonymous form with the prayer group. Prayers will be passed to the weekly City Council Thursday Christian Prayer Group (Victoria Sq Council House Committee Room 6a: Thursdays 13:00 – 14:00) and the fortnightly Lancaster Circus Morning Prayer meeting (8.15 to 8.45am in Room 403; on 1st, 3rd and 5th Wednesdays). If you do not want this sharing to take place, then feel free to say so within your email.
You can email prayer messages to email@example.com