Airport chaplains provide comfort to passengers and staff
East Midlands Airport shines spotlight on mental well-being during UK Airports Safety Week
For many people airports are places of happiness, the start of an exciting journey to a holiday destination or an important meeting. But for others, they can also be the beginning of a period of sadness; loved ones heading off to distant homes, or the bereaved going on journeys they’d rather avoid.
East Midlands Airport’s Chaplains play a valuable role supporting passengers, and staff, who need support. The pastoral, spiritual and humanitarian assistance the provide is available to the thousands of passengers who fly through the airport a week and the 8000 staff who work at multiple businesses across the airport site.
The chaplains make a point of approaching passengers who are sitting alone or look uneasy as they wait for their flight.
There are seven voluntary chaplains in the team which is led by the Reverend Roy Monks of Ibstock Baptist Church. The airport also has a prayer room, built in 2009. It is open 24/7 and can be used by people of all faiths as well as those of none. Prayers request can be left in a box which are prayed for every Wednesday by the chaplains.
Rev. Roy Monks, says: “If we see passengers looking anxious or sad we try to start a conversation with them. They may want to talk or be left alone. For nervous flyers, it can help to have someone to chat to and we also have advice cards for them. There are also those who are sad, perhaps newly-bereaved or saying goodbye to loved ones, and we are here to listen and comfort.”
A large part of their ministry is to staff. They regularly visit teams across the airport, as well as neighbouring businesses within the airport site. From preparing for a wedding, to financial or domestic advice, the chaplaincy team is on hand to support employees. Chaplains are also trained for emergencies and attend regular emergency response meetings.
Employee wellbeing is critical to the safe running of the airport. That’s why EMA is supporting the national Green Ribbon Campaign during UK Airport Safety Week (14-20 May). The Green Ribbon Campaign takes place every May, and aims to get people talking openly about common mental health problems.
Karen Smart, East Midlands Airport’s Managing Director, says: We’re encouraging all staff to wear a green ribbon during UK Airports Safety Week in recognition of the fact that very many people will experience some form of stress in the workplace at a point in time. We must end the stigma around mental health and ensure that we support colleagues in their time of need. The support of our chaplaincy teams is very important and, as a responsible employer, we have duty of care to all staff and that’s why we’re shining the light on mental wellbeing.”
If you’re visiting East Midlands Airport and you or someone you know might benefit from talking to a chaplain, please call them on 01332 818407.