Following on from a small group of Christians and Muslims who were involved in ‘chaplaincy’ training at Durham, in 2004/5, representatives of the faith groups worked together to produce a proposed policy for pastoral care and chaplaincy. This was sent to the County for their consideration, as they planned Building ‘New’ Schools for the Future’, in Burnley. The proposed policy explored how faith communities could contribute to all six proposed new schools in formulating and delivering visions and ethos, the RE Curriculum, pastoral care, worship and chaplaincy and suggested a multi-faith chaplaincy centre.
The idea was unique, but felt by the Burnley faith communities to be essential to support the spiritual dimension of the human personality. This dimension had also been recognised by educationalists and national government. As a result, the County decided to include a ‘Faith Centre’ in the new Burnley Campus to service Burnley and Pendle and that each new college that was to be built, to replace the then existing secondary schools, would also have a ‘faith space’.
The County also agreed to allocate funds so that a co-ordinator could be appointed to work at and from the Burnley and Pendle Faith Centre. The Burnley Campus including the faith centre opened at the beginning of September 2008.
In order to help meet college, pupil, and staff needs, it was also agreed to establish a ‘chaplaincy’ which is called ‘Faith Friends’. This has been operating for over twelve months at one of the new colleges with a Muslim lady and a Christian lady volunteering their services. The project has been evaluated and steps are being taken to formalise the arrangement with the college and Building Bridges in Burnley, each finding 50% of the cost of employing the ‘volunteers’ for four hours per week.
A Faith Friend is a person of mature faith who is a friend and support of the whole College community. She/He is recognised by the College and the Faith Friends Committee as a person who is suitable to fulfil this role. A Faith Friend is present in the College for a number of hours each week and has a ‘go-between’ identity, being neither staff, nor student.
Faith Friends will:
- Offer friendship and care to students and staff
- Support the pastoral, spiritual, moral and religious needs of students and staff
- Provide some leadership, advice and support for the use of the College’s spiritual space(s)
- Contribute to community cohesion in the College and therefore to the wider community
- Be jointly supported by and be jointly accountable to a member of the SMT of the College and the Faith Friend Committee, (formed from the Faith Centre and Building Bridges Burnley).
Two Faith Friends, one Christian and one Muslim, both women, spend a day a week in an 11-16 college in Burnley. Cath and Shahida did this work voluntarily for four terms, but now receive some financial support giving their time. This has been made possibly through partnership with the College and Building Bridges in Burnley. This year they will be:
- spending time at the pre-school breakfast club getting to know pupils
- taking part in the PHSE lessons
- taking part in the RE lessons
- advising and helping in the College to develop a programme of community cohesion activities and more