‘My First 100 Days As Guildford’s New Town Centre Chaplain’
Guildford’s new town centre chaplain, the Rev’d Noelle Coe, has been in post for 100 days. Here she explains her role, the main issues being faced, what excites her about the job and how people can support the work it does.You head up the Town Centre Chaplaincy, what does it do?
The chaplaincy has been established for 10 years and is supported by churches, businesses and individuals from the Guildford area. With over 130 fabulous volunteers we run three projects designed to offer care and compassion to the vulnerable in the town – whether they are at work, rest or play.
Our much-loved Street Angels project has helped 50,000 people in his first decade of operation, providing a calming presence on the town’s streets, between 11pm and 4am, every Friday and Saturday night.
Our much newer project, Community Angels, tackles the growing problem of loneliness, these Angels befriend and reconnect the most isolated across the town.
Finally, our Volunteer Chaplains provide a friendly independent listening ear within the workplace, working alongside retailers and other employers, where it is needed. We are particularly proud that our work has been recognised by being presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for Charities!
What is the role of the Town Chaplain?
I am effectively the chief executive officer of the charity, responsible for two part-time staff and our precious team of volunteers.
More interestingly, I have the privilege of enabling others to serve some of the neediest people of Guildford. I’m humbled to see our fabulous volunteers committing themselves to go out into our community to give support and blessing.
Our town centre is special. On the surface, it is a wealthy beautiful place. However, its lovely facades also conceal considerable problems after dark and behind closed doors. I am proud to have the opportunity to contribute to making Guildford a safer and more caring place for those who work, rest or play here.
What is your background?
I’m originally from Surrey. I’m ordained and I have served in a variety of parishes ranging from St Martin’s in the Bull Ring in central Birmingham and outer city estates, to my current village church in Newdigate.
I’ve also worked for the civil service, local government and National Express coaches, so along the way I have gained valuable experience in both the community and commercial worlds.
I’m married to Andrew the team rector of the Surrey Weald team and have three grown-up children which still keeps me busy. I love to read, go to the theatre, cook savoury food (my cakes often resemble biscuits!) walk, preferably on routes with tea shops.