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Research into our work

Research into the community chaplaincy approach

We have commissioned some research into our work.

The importance of holistic, person-centred support

Cambridge University was commissioned to undertake a piece of research to increase the evidence base for the importance of holistic, person-centred support and also to have a very honest account of how we can do more to support the desistance journey.

This study shows that relationships rooted in community chaplaincy’s distinctive ethos are at the heart of the work.

Other important findings from the research include:

  • The community chaplaincy ethos is expressed in practice that sees the intrinsic worth of each individual, is prepared to persevere, and remains committed to the possibility of future flourishing. This ethos is underpinned, for community chaplaincy, by the faith-based foundation of each organisation.
  • Service users describe relationships with staff and volunteers that are genuine, helpful, reciprocal and caring; they compare these relationships favourably with those built with workers at other agencies. Personal and professional boundaries in community chaplaincy are not straightforward; for example, mentoring relationships are not friendships, but they are often experienced as ‘like friendships’.
  • Key factors in the approach taken by community chaplaincy are the nature of the relationships that develop between service users, staff and volunteers, the broad range of practical help on offer, and the values that underpin the delivery of the service.
  • Community chaplaincy contributes to the goals of the prison and probation services. However, it is best understood as independent of the criminal justice system, positioning itself alongside other community groups working with people who are disadvantaged, excluded and overlooked.