Birmingham City Council

We are Chaplains at Birmingham City Council.

We are still available despite the social distancing needs. We are part of the Wellbeing support for City Council employees.

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

Chaplains are available to listen in confidence on a 1-to-1 basis, they lead workshops and can advise on wellbeing & life-work issues. They organise seasonal events and commemorations; they recognise the spiritual life in all people. They mentor staff and sign post to further support.

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

Chaplain Val Benjamin offers mentoring, coaching and pastoral support.

Contact her on val@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk

Chaplain Rachel Holdforth offers listening and pastoral support. Her Remote Chaplaincy Blog suggests ideas for wellbeing and reflection while at home.

Contact her on rachel@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk

Peter Sellick, Council Chaplain

Chaplain Peter Sellick is available for 1-to-1 listening, wellbeing workshops and support, and also offers regular Mindfulness sessions.

Contact him at peter@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk

Mindfulness Sessions

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

To join the live online staff sessions contact wellbeingteam@birmingham.gov.uk.

Recordings of the Mindfulness sessions are available on the Council Staff Yammer network.

Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment. Evidence suggests that switching the focus of our awareness from thinking to noticing (particularly noticing real, solid things like our bodies) can be a helpful bit of ‘brain exercise’. BCC staff report that doing this regularly helps them to let go of concerns and feel refreshed, more in control. It helps them to feel more relaxed during the day, and to sleep at night. The NHS now recommends Mindfulness courses to help people manage aspects of anxiety and depression.

A sample Mindfulness recording is available here:

Breathing Space Mindfulness
(Video) 23 mins

Stress and Wellbeing

BCC Chaplains have been trained as Mental Health First Aid ambassadors, and are avaiable to lead workshops about managing Stress and Wellbeing.

Information about Stress and Wellbeing

During this time of Covid-19 there are free on-line mindfulness courses, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) practices and guidance. These can be helpful in making small life changes. See here

BCC Chaplains are also available to deliver workshops on:

  • Coping with, and Managing, Bereavement
  • Understanding Trauma
  • What is Mindfulness?

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

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.

Chaplains see Spirituality as a normal part of human life. Chaplaincy within the workplace is a sign that we can be fully ourselves at work.

Prayer Requests

You can email prayer messages to prayer@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk

If you would like the chaplaincy team to pray for any specific issues, you can contact us via the email address above. Any prayer requests submitted will be treated confidentially; but will be shared in an anonymous form with the Christian prayer group.

Further information

About The Chaplains

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 are supported and funded by the main denominations of Christian Churches in Birmingham. Birmingham City Council makes a small donation to their Charity. They are independent volunteers in their role within the council.

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.

Mindfulness information

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.

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.)

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

Rachel Holdforth rachel@birminghamcouncilchaplains.co.uk

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.