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Court Chaplaincy First for Scotland

Wednesday December 7

A new multi-faith chaplaincy initiative, the first of its kind in Scotland, was launched in Edinburgh’s Sheriff Court yesterday (December 6).

A team of 19 trained chaplains from the city’s faith communities, including the Church of Scotland, will provide an independent, confidential support service called ‘The Listening Service’ to all court users and staff of all faiths and none.

The service, based on a successful model that has been running in Bradford since 2009, will take referrals from court staff and other agencies, such as social workers and victim support. The service is free, private and confidential.

Local faith leaders, including the Church of Scotland's Presbytery of Edinburgh, and the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association (EIFA) have been involved in the Listening Service project since it was proposed last year. Operational procedures and lines of accountability to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service have been developed in conjunction with the Sheriff Principal and the Sheriff Clerk. 

Rev Andrew Letby, Superintendent Minister of the Edinburgh and Forth Circuit of the Methodist Church, is one of the Listening Service Project Leaders. He said: "After two years of planning and development, it is exciting to launch 'The Listening Service', a multi-faith chaplaincy at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court. Courts can be very difficult and confusing places for anyone who uses them. The new service developed with Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association will offer a non-judgmental listening ear for people of all faiths and none."

Iain Stewart, General Secretary of EIFA, said: "The Edinburgh Interfaith Association is really proud to support the Multi-Faith Court Chaplaincy initiative. At the heart of the great world faiths is a belief in ‘treating others as we would like to be treated'. The experience of being at court can be stressful - a time when individuals and families need support. As an association, and from our faith communities, we would like to lend support. We are reassured to know that if we, or others, should need it, the courts' 'Listening Service' will be there."


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