Asda to get new

IT'S sold loaves and fishes since it opened, now Ipswich's Asda store is to get its own chaplain.The store-based role is open to representatives of any religion and would offer a "friendly shoulder" style resource to both shoppers and staff.

IT'S sold loaves and fishes since it opened, now Ipswich's Asda store is to get its own chaplain.

The store-based role is open to representatives of any religion and would offer a "friendly shoulder" style resource to both shoppers and staff.

Already local vicar Rev Paul Bourner has made arrangements to speak to the store manager about taking on the role.

"It's important to go out into the community to places like Asda – there are more people there than in the church on a Sunday," Mr Bourner said.

The chaplain would be on hand to offer advice on any subject, ranging from the price of eggs to what was on television last night through to more serious issues such as relationship problems.

The chosen would spend around one or two hours a week in the store, on Goddard Road, Ipswich.

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The recruitment drive for chaplains stretches to all 256 Asda stores nation-wide.

Ruth Copeman, events co-ordinator at the store, said: "The in-store chaplain role has proved very successful in a number of our stores. The chaplains have a very low presence and are just there to chat or listen to customers or colleagues whatever their faith."

The idea of in-store chaplains at supermarket chains has not yet caught on and neither Sainsbury's nor Tesco have any plans to follow suit.

But Nick Clarke, diocesan community director for Suffolk, welcomed the moves.

He said: "I think the Church of England would welcome any move like this. Part of a chaplain's work in the community is very much to be a listener in the same way as this.

"It is another way of helping the public and we would always welcome that."

Although the idea of chaplains for supermarkets is relatively new, their presence in football clubs, schools, fire services and hospitals is now commonplace.

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www.asda.co.uk

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