The Town Centre Chaplaincy project is part of Greater Manchester Industrial Mission (GMIM) and was officially launched in March 2006 following on from a pilot project started in February 2005. It recognises the stresses and challenges of working in a very competitive and often highly pressured sector of the economy and our aim is to support people of all faiths or none in their workplace.
The project is supported by a number of organisations:
- Greater Manchester Industrial Mission
- Town Centre Management Board
- Oldham Interfaith Forum
- Churches Together in Oldham
- Retail Chaplaincy Network
A Management Group comprising representatives of the various denominations and from other faiths, as well as from the Town Centre Management, has kept the work ticking along but was dependent on the limited availability of some of the local ministers. It had always been expected that much of the work would be carried out by a team of volunteers but securing funding for a post through which we could train and support the volunteers proved problematic so recruitment of volunteers was put on hold.
In November 2011, another pilot project, this time with Street Angels, provided support to late-night clubbers in Oldham during the Christmas festivities. This project was co-ordinated by Rev Jean Hurlston, an associate priest at Oldham Parish Church and is supported by the Council, the Police and by St Johns Ambulance. The huge success of the pilot resulted in the full-blown project which sees volunteer Angels out and about in Oldham Town Centre every Saturday and has become an invaluable tool in the fight against drink-fuelled disorder and crime.
In November 2014, Rev Ruth Wollaston was inducted as the Co-ordinating Chaplain, funded by the United Reformed Church, and, having spent some time getting to know Oldham and the people, now provides the opportunity to recruit, train and deploy a team of volunteers to cover the work which has for the intervening years been loosely covered by some of the local ministers.
In December 2019, Donna Shaw joined the Street Angels project as Development Worker/Co-ordinator, picking up the responsibilities from Jean with the plan to take the project forward – until Covid-19 came along and forced the plans to be put on hold. The Street Angels project has responded to the ever-changing restrictions caused by the pandemic but we look forward to the return to the plans to extend the service when the restrictions lift sufficiently for the night-time business to resume.
To find out more about the teams, click on one of the links below: