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Courting Awards

by glynch — last modified 20 Mar, 2018 10:40 AM

Mothers' Union-run Salisbury Court Café and Court Chaplaincy win award from High Sheriff

Courting Awards

Photo © Michael Ford/Diocese of Salisbury

Mothers’ Union and Salisbury Court Chaplaincy volunteers have received recognition with an award from the High Sheriff of Wiltshire for their work at Salisbury Law Courts.

Penny Marland, the High Sherriff of Wiltshire and Swindon, presented the High Sheriff’s Award at the Courts on Friday, applauding the efforts of the unpaid workforce. She said, with heartfelt emphasis, “The work they do is essential.

“A café would normally be a commercial operation. The one here is different because it provides a little bit of warmth as well as a cup of tea. The volunteers can see if someone is feeling very stressed or distressed, and then they can link in with the Chaplaincy team.”

Andrew Wells, Chaplain to the Law Courts, said, “Courts are difficult places, where people come and where truth is wrestled out before strangers, who can make powerful decisions that impact on people’s lives and the lives of their families and friends. The gift of hospitality is critically important.

“I’ll often see members of the café team sitting at a table with people between a rock and a hard place. It’s that extended ministry and that extended care, for each of the women and each of the men – for others as if they were members of their own family.”

The Café is a joint venture between the Law Courts Administration, the Chaplaincy Team and Mothers’ Union.

Diocesan Mothers’ Union President Rosie Stiven says, “It has been a wonderful combined outreach between the Chaplaincy and the Mothers’ Union into the secular world, greeting families who are in highly stressful situations, showing them a smile, a cup of love.

“It has been a great joy for our team.”

The Court Café started in January 2016, replacing a commercial enterprise at the invitation of Andrew Wells, and has become an integral part of the Law Courts. Initially funded by a start-up grant from the Bishop of Salisbury’s seed fund, the café paid the money back within a year and is now self-supporting.

Funding generated is used to help families caught up in the criminal justice system. Provision includes short breaks or residential holidays, as well as therapeutic art and craft activities in Erlestoke Prison. Project leader Joanna Woodd currently organises a rota of twenty volunteers.

Joanna said, “We set up the café to serve the users of the courts, those who have to come as witnesses, whether for the prosecution or defence.

“Before coming to Salisbury, I worked in many London courts: I know court can be a very frightening and intimidating place to attend.

“Lawyers and court staff also work under stress, sometimes dealing with very disturbing cases indeed, and we are here for them too. All departments of the court work together for the good of the community and for the benefit of those who need to attend.

“Many of the café team are excellent listeners, so we are able to work closely and complement the chaplaincy team.”

Photo (left-to-right): the Revd Sue Ascough, Chaplain Erlestoke Prison; Rob Guy, Coordinator of the Dorset and Wilts Fire and Rescue Service’s Salamander Project; Penny, Lady Marland, High Sheriff of Wiltshire and Swindon; Andrew Wells, Chaplain, Salisbury Law Courts Chaplaincy Team; Mrs Joanna Woodd, Project Leader of the Mothers’ Union Court Café Project; Mrs Belinda Southwell representing the Friends of Erlestoke Prison.

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