Rev Peter Lolley trained as a drugs counsellor with the prison service. As he nears his retirement he shares his experience as a works chaplain
The steel industry is a very challenging place, and until my retirement on 31 March, I worked as works chaplain at the Tata Steel works in Port Talbot, South Wales. As chaplain I had a wide-ranging role, which was all about getting alongside people in the workplace and being there to help with those experiencing problems in their lives.
Many things crop up with a workforce of some 5,500 on site and I believe I have been able to provide something special dealing with family problems, financial problems, employment worries, family bereavements, terminal illnesses with family members, and drug and alcohol issues, as well as dealing with the aftermath of accidents on site and, sadly, even fatalities.
I trained as a drugs counsellor with the prison service as a prison chaplain, and have been privileged to put those skills to good use over the last nine years; and the result is that I have been able to help many people through their problems.
In a workforce of this size, it is inevitable that some people will have problems with drugs and alcohol, and I have been used as a counsellor along with colleagues for people who have failed drug or alcohol tests, or indeed have referred themselves for help. On a site where many of the processes are dangerous, involving hot molten metal, the safety of work teams cannot be over emphasised. It follows therefore than anyone having drink or drug problems cannot be allowed to potentially put other people’s safety at risk.
In retirement, I plan to still be involved with a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, perhaps on one day a week. I have loved my work and will carry some special memories into this new phase of my life.