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Briston church providing expert support

Briston Congregational Church operates a “chat line” manned by trained professionals which is now particularly active in supporting the community during the current lockdown.

The phone line is manned by, or provides access to, Pastoral staff, Health & Wellbeing advisors and counsellors, trauma consultants, stress and mental health community responders, pharmacists, Food Hygiene trainers, NHS responders, and Red Cross volunteers.
The Chatline has existed for eight years, operated by Briston Congregational Church in North Norfolk. It was originally set up just for the village to support the isolated and infirm or just lonely over the Christmas period, as well as the opportunity to invite an opportunity to pray for local issues. 

The church's pastor, Neil Woodruff, worked for ten years in Community Rehabilitation and Trauma, linked to elderly mental health and loneliness, and this gave him an understanding of the "hidden" needs in rural communities, and the identification of need to overcome the fact that many carers were not known of, or possibly even ashamed of their situation.

Briston Congregational Church Centre was established in 1723, but re-opened in 1991 after it had been totally renovated as a modern, user friendly centre with Sunday services and student training (theological and pastoral).  They were joined by a project worker who was with the Ministry Team for three years and developed the Briston Advice Centre, offering help and advice and including a Job Centre, CAB, and a Homework Club with accredited teaching staff.
The church has now purchased an adjoining detached Victorian house with the intention of providing a flat for a church family or worker on the first floor, and to use the ground floor rooms as places to meet and counsel those in need, or help. They have been able to provide short term accommodation in the flat, although further refurbishment is on hold at the moment due to lock-down and lack of workers.
Neil explains “The overall purpose of the church and the centre is to provide a biblical based, caring and supportive facility for the local community and surrounding villages in North Norfolk. We have a dedicated "listening line" , trained Community Responders under the NHS scheme and also Red Cross Volunteers available. In conjunction with local businesses we are supporting a home delivery service and shopping, a pharmacist who is available to support and advice when necessary and a medicines delivery provision. All services are GDPR covered and volunteers DBS checked.  In addition to the above we have a consultant on the team who is qualified in food safety and hygiene, allergens, and Health & Wellbeing, depression and stress supporting a Carers Support Group.”


Project name:                Briston chat line
Run by:                          Neil Woodruff, supported by his family and qualified volunteers
Catchment area:            Briston and surrounding villages in North Norfolk
Location:                        Briston Congregational Church Centre, The Lanes, Briston.  NR24 2HW
Contact details:              Phone 07891 968966  or e-mail:
Current needs:               Sponsorship, Income, and Supportive Grants. Although currently financially in the                                         black, activities are, at times, restricted by lack of funds.
Help for other projects? Bereavement support services have been offered to the Lord Lieutenant’s Chaplain.
Prayer requests:            We have a Facebook Group, and the prayer needs are substantial, both individual and collective. Every Sunday at 8pm we are holding a prayer meeting which covers all known requests and issues.
The photo is courtesy of Quino Al on

Tony Rothe, 04/05/2020

Published: 04/05/2020
Tony Rothe