Birmingham City Council

We are Chaplains at Birmingham City Council.

We are still available despite the social distancing needs. Contact us via our email addresses below.

BCC Chaplains Val Benjamin, Peter Sellick, David Harrison and Rachel Holdforth provide Independent, Confidential Chaplaincy support for all members of staff at Birmingham City Council, without regard to faith or belief background.

During this time of social distancing, Chaplains are available to talk and offer support over the telephone. Do get in contact with them using the email addresses below.

Click for introduction to Val’s pastoral support

Chaplain Val Benjamin offers mentoring, coaching and pastoral support. (Contact val@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk)

Click for introduction to Rachel’s wellbeing ideas

Chaplain Rachel Holdforth offers some suggestions for wellbeing and reflection at home or office on her Remote Chaplaincy Blog. Contact her on rachel@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk

Peter Sellick, Council Chaplain
Peter Sellick, Council Chaplain

Chaplain Peter Sellick is available for 1-to-1 listening and support, and also offers Mindfulness sessions – see below.Contact him at peter@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk

Other Chaplaincy Wellbeing and Support information is available on our ‘In Virus Times‘ page

Mindfulness Sessions

Because of most of us are working from home, our regular Mindfulness sessions have been moved online.

Recordings of the Mindfulness sessions are available on the Council Staff Yammer network. To join the live online staff sessions contact wellbeingteam@birmingham.gov.uk

Some introductory Mindfulness recordings are available here:

Peter Sellick, Council Chaplain
Introduction to Mindfulness Breathing Exercise (Audio)
Grounding Mindfulness Exercise
in time of anxiety (Audio)
Breathing Space Mindfulness
(Video) 23 mins

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’.

During this time of deep challenge and concern because of Covid-19 there are many free on-line mindfulness courses, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) practices and guidance for other ways we might be able to make a few small changes within self-help. See here

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, and other resources, is available here.

More general information about mindfulness can be found at the Mental Health Foundation

Free mindfulness guided meditations can be downloaded at freemindfulness.org.

Contact the Chaplains

Contact the Chaplains if you would like to arrange a private conversation or seek information.

The Chaplains are available to be contacted by email as below:

Val Benjamin val@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk

Peter Sellick peter@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk

David Harrison david@birminghamcouncilchaplains. co.uk 

Rachel Holdforth rachel@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk

They can also be contacted by telephone Monday – Thursday 9am-5pm on 07746 299676

About The Chaplains

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.

Val Benjamin
Peter Sellick at Birmingham Council
Peter Sellick
David Harrison
Rachel Holdforth

What the Chaplains 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.

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.

Normally our Chaplaincy presence is focussed in Lancaster Circus, Woodcock St, Lifford House, New Aston House and Sutton New Road; but we are available to staff from all areas of the council operations. During this time of social distancing, our Chaplaincy conversations are likely to be via the phone or online.

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. Conversations can range from the apparently unimportant to some of the most significant events of life. We are an additional, proactive, service to other BCC Staff  support such as www.birmingham.helpeap.com.

Faith Relations

Chaplains also work with the Christian network groups and other Faith groups to support their faithful living, and are happy to mark significant faith events. Chaplains are also very happy to work with people of no faith. The Chaplains do not attempt to proselytise.

Christian Fellowship Meetings

The following meetings are arranged for Staff prayer and encouragement. These meetings are currently being held online. Please feel free to contact Peter Bethell or Jacqueline Shaw at the Council to join these meetings.

Thursday Prayers  (further details contact Wynne Parry)

– (Normally Prayer meeting: Room 135 Council House; Every Thursday 1:00pm – 2:00pm)

Library of Birmingham on Wednesdays (further details contact Marcia West)

– (Normally Prayer meeting: Room 715, Level 7  Every 2nd Wednesday 1:10pm-1:50pm (even week numbers on council flex rota))

Lancaster Circus Prayers on Wednesdays

– (Normally LC Room 313; Every 2nd Wednesday 8.00am – 8.45am (even week numbers on council flex rota)

>  For further details contact Caroline Rhoden

Lancaster Circus Bible study / discussion:

– (Normally LC Room 313:  Every 2nd and 4th Wednesdays 1:15pm – 1:45pm)

>  For further details contact Peter Bethell or Jacqueline Shaw

Prayer Requests

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 prayer@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk