A new chaplaincy initiative called ‘The Listening Service’ has been launched in Edinburgh, with a team of 19 trained chaplains from the city’s faith communities beginning work on Tuesday 6 December at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. These new court’s chaplains will provide an independent, confidential support service to all court users and staff – of all faiths and none. Court staff and staff from other agencies at the court (e.g. Social Work, Victim Support) will be able to refer court users to the Listening Service. The service is free, private and confidential; a listening ear for all who request it, when it is most needed
The court chaplaincy service will be the first of its kind in Scotland but is based on a successful model that has been running in Bradford since 2009.
Local faith leaders and the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association have been involved in the Listening Service project since it was proposed in January 2016. Operational procedures and lines of accountability have to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service have been developed in conjunction with the Sheriff principal and the Sheriff Clerk.
The Project Leaders for the Listening Service are Andrew Letby and Hilda Warwick of the Methodist Church.
Andrew Letby is Superintendent Minister of the Edinburgh & Forth Circuit of the Methodist Church and, says: “After two years of planning and development is exciting to launch ‘The Listening Service’, a multi-faith chaplaincy at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court. Courts can be very difficult and confusing places for anyone who uses them. The new service developed with Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association will offer a non-judgemental listening ear for people of all faiths and none.”
Iain Stewart, General Secretary of the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association (EIFA), adds:
“The Edinburgh Interfaith Association is really proud to support the Multi-Faith Court Chaplaincy initiative. At the heart of the great world faiths is a belief in ‘treating others as we would like to be treated’. The experience of being at court can be stressful – a time when individuals and families need support. As an association, and from our faith communities, we would like to lend support. We are reassured to know that if we, or others, should need it, the courts’ ‘Listening Service’ will be there.”