Not all heroes wear capes...

‘I owe you my life …thank you isn’t enough … #notallheroeswearcapes’ - Message of thanks posted on the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team Facebook page

24 hours a day, every day of the year, the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team search for, find, and provide crisis intervention for people who come to Beachy Head with the intention of ending their life or who are in crisis.

The team receives calls from the police, visitors to the head, concerned family members and others on a daily basis, alerting them to sightings of people showing signs of being at risk. The chaplaincy team patrols and searches, by car and on foot. On average they will make four interventions every day or night with those who are lost, without hope, or broken hearted.

Since the charity began fifteen years ago, the team of 24 remarkable search and rescue chaplains (who are mostly volunteers) have responded to more than 10,000 incidents in their five-mile search area at Beachy Head.

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‘Hope is stronger than fear. Hope can be the most exciting thing there is in a person’s life. Sometimes that is all you have when you have nothing else. If you have it, you have everything.’ - Quote from the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team Facebook page

The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team are volunteer Christians from local churches, who receive three months’ classroom training in crisis intervention support and then undertake a further three months’ probation with senior chaplains before becoming qualified to work as a search and rescue chaplain. They undertake their work because of their love of God, but never impose their faith on the people they seek to help.

Beachy Head is a place where you can feel the awe and power of nature, where the wind rips through you and where the white cliffs at the edge of the headland meet the often-stormy seas and sky. Dan, an IT specialist in Eastbourne, with four children is a member of Kings Church Heathfield; he does one patrol shift every week for the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team. He loves the great beauty of the area and appreciates that tourists from all over the world come to experience it. But Dan also understands the depths of pain felt by others who come without hope and is always seeking to engage with them on a deeper level.

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‘Well, I knew you guys were amazing, but I didn’t realise you were searching-in-the-dark crazy kind of amazing. Wow. Please be careful out there. And thank you.’ - Message of thanks posted on the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team Facebook page

Steve Moysey lives with his wife and two children, he works for an architectural practice and is also a volunteer search and rescue chaplain for the team. He said: ‘The work at Beachy Head is demanding, varied, unpredictable, sometimes relentless, often cold, wet and windy. It’s always strangely beautiful, but with one constant: broken, hurting people at their lowest, most hopeless and in the darkest place you can ever imagine. Their stories are real and their needs are even greater.’

The Facebook page of the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team is a place of real community where those who know the toughness and resilience required for this relentless task, post messages of strength and support to help the chaplains through long nights.

Similarly those on patrol on dark winter shifts, post phone videos of themselves singing along to old songs playing on the car radio as they drive beside epic stormy seas; there are jokes, inspirational quotes and many messages of thanks, support and solidarity …. People are with them.

Returning from an average seven-mile foot patrol shift, the chaplains may find flowers left on the windscreens of their car; they receive cakes and biscuits at their base on Beachy Head from generous supporters; there is remarkable support from the whole community, who have found themselves somehow involved in the crisis moments of strangers’ lives. This is a collective effort to provide hope, escape from darkness and safety to whomever needs it at their time of greatest need. It is driven by the strongest belief in the importance and need for what the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team has been called, and formed, and never wavers, to do.

We are braced: We are ready and equipped to help anyone in need.

We are hopeful: We believe that positive change is always possible.

We are compassionate: We show care towards everyone, no matter who they are.

We are tireless: We are ready to respond every hour of every day, and we never give up on people. - The Values Statement of the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team

The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team recently applied for a grant from Allchurches Trust to enable the charity to move their admin and support team into smaller offices and reduce the running costs of the organisation – increasing its income so as to train and deploy more chaplains. This will reduce the stress on their existing team and allow the charity to continue and increase the incredible work it does on behalf of every one of us. Allchurches Trust is delighted to have supported the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team and we are humbled by the work that they do. To learn more about the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team, visit their website: www.bhct.org.uk