Last year, the Revd Dick Johnson became the first Joint Lead Chaplain for both West Mercia Police and Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, alongside continuing to work with Faith and Work in Worcestershire (FWW) part-time. Based mainly at the Police Headquarters at Hindlip, between Worcester and Droitwich (to which the Fire and Rescue Service HQ will also soon be moving), Dick provides chaplaincy to both services working with teams of volunteer chaplains.

Dick said: “I have always enjoyed chaplaincy so working with both Services is an exciting opportunity. The two services are increasingly working more closely together so it makes sense to have a joint chaplain who can understand the stresses, anxieties and the joys of both. They have a lot in common.”

Dick began chaplaincy with the Fire Service in 2007 as part of his work as Industrial Missioner with FWW.The work was valued to the extent that the Service has now allocated funds to a partnership with West Mercia Police that employs Dick for three days a week, with Dick taking over the Police role from the Ven. Ron Hesketh who retired in 2017. “Much of my role is about listening,” Dick said. “Quite often I’m talking to staff about what is worrying them and it has little, apparently, to do with God and faith. But of course it does, as the work of emergency services, with all its tragedy and success, is very much part of God’s world. It’s about being a Christian presence keeping the rumour of God alive in a largely secular world. A particularly important part of my role is to provide support to crews who have been to difficult incidents – giving them the opportunity to talk through that experience with someone independent and process what they’ve seen.”

Dick is also responsible for recruiting, placing and supporting teams of volunteer chaplains for both services, as well as the broader work of FWW in other workplaces across the county. “Being a chaplain is an accredited volunteer role in the Police Service, with chaplains undertaking eight hours visiting a month in a local station and supporting the staff there. The volunteer chaplains have a very important role and training is provided. We work in partnership with congregations from which volunteers come. This is part of their ministry as a church, and all about their mission in their community. We are always looking for more partner churches and volunteers!”

The Joint Chaplain role makes up 60% of Dick’s time, with the other 40% funded by the five denominations involved in Faith at Work in Worcestershire. “I’m a full time Chaplain with a number of portfolios,” said Dick. “It’s challenging, but immensely fulfilling and enjoyable.”