A NEW workplace chaplaincy will be piloted to support staff working at West Berkshire Council. 

Reverend Richard Littledale, minister of the Newbury Baptist Church, will volunteer his services around twice a month. 

After the six months, the council will look at making the chaplaincy permanent, and see if other faith leaders are interested in getting involved. 

Rev Littledale approached Nick Carter, the chief executive of the council, saying he might like to offer the service. 

He will offer drop-in sessions for about an hour at a time, which will be open to all, without discrimination. 

The pilot was approved by councillors on the personnel committee last week. 

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Councillor Howard Woollaston (Con, Lambourn), the lead member for internal governance, said: “Let’s make it quite clear: this is a pilot. Other faiths can have their own specific chaplaincy if they want it.” 

Rebecca Bird, human resources manager, said: “If any specific staff members want a similar service in their faith, please notify human resources.”

Cllr Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem, Newbury Wash Common) said: “What benefit is it to the council and the residents of West Berkshire?”

Ms Bird: “It’s only to staff. It complements other forms of support available, such as confidential counselling and access to occupational health. It’s something other organisations do have.”

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A chaplain helps people with their emotional and spiritual well-being, and offers confidential, non-judgmental support about all aspects of life and work. 

Chaplains often work in hospitals, prisons, and in the military, but they also work in factories and local councils. 

Rev Littledale would treat all information given to him confidentially. 

Ms Bird said: “The chaplain would not offer a formal counselling service and should be regarded as complementing existing provision and services confidential counselling and recognised trade unions.”