Adventure Island and Southend

Rev'd Hannah Bucke  Adventure Island Southend

I am now into to my second year, or should I say second ‘season’ as chaplain to the Stockvale Group, focused mainly at the Adventure Island theme park. In this second year, the seasonal   nature of the business and the role has become particularly apparent as the summer months were very busy indeed. The 8 weeks of ‘high season’ in July and August particularly so, when I was called out on many occasions to speak to staff with pastoral issues, sometimes seeing  several staff in a day.

What has also become clear as this chaplaincy has begun to bed into the life of the business is just how much the young staff, mostly between 16 and 24, need the ministry of pastoral care. The issues I have dealt with have been serious ones: mental health problems including self-harm and suicide, abuse, addiction, challenges faced by the LGBT community, issues relating to  dysfunctional family circumstances, and bereavement, as well as matters of faith and life.    For many of those I have seen, the chaplaincy has provided their first opportunity to talk to someone about their  problems and signposting to other sources of support has been another key part of the role. This has however highlighted the lack of provision for young people needing support as services across the board are stretched, particularly in relation to mental health.   I think this poses some important questions for us in the Church about our role in supporting  vulnerable people in society, even when they do not come through our doors.

We are now into the new season and I am busy most weekends with new staff inductions. One of the other features of Adventure Island is its staff turnover, and while some return to work several seasons, many new staff come on board every year. It is important to have the opportunity to talk to them at induction and it remains an enormous privilege to be a public Christian  representative amongst so many young people and within such a key business in Southend.

Rev’d Hannah Bucke

Southend & Leasure Island Theme Park