About Waterways Chaplains

‘…be a catalyst in the waterways communities to bring about short and long term personal transformation – emotionally, mentally and spiritually’.

    Canalside servie at Ware Festival

The Waterways Chaplaincy is slightly different from our other Chaplaincies. The Chaplain’s distinctive primary focus is to proactively reach out to people in need on our rivers and canals. Chaplains also support the increasing number of boaters who are ‘signposted to them’ by the Canals and Rivers Trust Welfare Officer, other boaters who are concerned for someone they have come across in need and other Waterways Chaplains. Rather like Street Pastors, Waterways Chaplains are there to serve those they come across. But  our chaplains build and maintain relationships as they often help to sort out more involved issues with the boater e.g. poverty, health & benefits problems leading to transformation in peoples lives.

Vision 200:2020 “Coming alongside you”

The Waterways Chaplaincy vision is to ‘be a catalyst in the waterways communities to bring about short and long term personal transformation – emotionally, mentally and spiritually’. The project is to have 200 Chaplains on our waterways by 2020.

Chaplain’s role

Waterways Chaplains walk the tow paths in pairs within a certain geographical patch e.g. Grand Union Canal from Hunton Bridge, Watford to Nash Mills Hemel Hempstead. They are trained volunteers, who are assigned a mentor for the first few months and are from different backgrounds e.g. Church members who may be retired GP’s, anglers, working part-time but want to help in their community or just walk their dog along canals and rivers and see a need along their ‘stretch’.  The chaplains are very connected into their local communities and aim to both respond to referrals and proactively ‘come alongside’ boaters in need, especially those with personal challenges.

The Chaplains offer:

  • Listening: listening & confidential ear.
  • Signposting: sign post those in difficulty to local support services e.g. foodbanks.
  • Advocates: act as advocates when a boater needs someone to unravel issues e.g. difficulties with paying licences, support with bereavement.
  • Hardship Fund: offer coal/ fuel, food, emergency boat repairs.
  • Emergencies: take boaters to access emergency medical support e.g. Doctor or hospital, housing.
  • Practical: help e.g. washing and drying laundry for boaters, helping out after a (rare) boat sinking.

Email us for more details.

Some Chaplains’ experiences:

“I met a single-handed lady boater at a lock and we had a conversation about her partner recovering from Cancer surgery but, thankfully, had not needed chemo this time. I told her I would pray for them and to get in touch if there was anything we could do to help, even just a cup of coffee.”

“I was travelling back home on my boat when I saw a familiar boat of someone I had previously helped so I called out ‘hello’ as I went by. He came out and shouted if I had time to stop, could I? I managed to find somewhere to moor  and went in for a drink. He needed to chat and did so for nearly an hour, he just needed to get things off his chest. This boater has become an asset now in the local area and often helps out other boaters.”

Could you be a Waterways Chaplain?  Click for some more information.

Would you like to support us in other ways? Click for some inspiration.