So you thought slavery was a thing of the past?

The issue of human trafficking was dealt with at a very enlightening evening at the Meeting House on Wednesday evening. Hatty Hodgson, of the West Midlands Anti Human Trafficking Network  was the Key Speaker.
Many thousands of people in the world today are sold into slavery, not only in poor countries but in Western Europe too, including the United Kingdom.

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Human trafficking takes a number of different forms. Often people are lured with the promise of a good job or career in another country, or another part of their own country, and end up losing their freedom and working for little or no pay. The three main kinds of work in which people are exploited in this way are prostitution, domestic service and forced manual labour. They are usually helpless to do anything about it either because they are intimidated by physical violence, they have no one who ‘looks out’ for them,  become dependent on those who control them or because they are misinformed by them and unaware of the possibility of getting any sort of help.

The police now have special units dealing with this kind of crime, and Hattie pointed out some of the ways in which we can all do something about it. For instance, we can aim to become much more informed about the sources of products we buy in the shops, and challenge retailers when we suspect that there is human trafficking somewhere in the supply chain. We can also report to the police any suspicious things we see that could point to trafficking, such as groups of demoralised and forlorn looking people being picked up in a van or a man surrounded by a group of women he seems to be contolling. Things like this could be insignificant, but there is always the possibility of our report being the vital piece of evidence that is needed to make a case and put a stop to this kind of exploitation.

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Some very grim and cruel cases were talked about, and there was a lively discussion. The event was organised by Lizzie Santander Ochoa and Melvyn Xavier Stephen two Chaplaincy student volunteers.

Hattie Hodgson wrote her own blog about her visit to the Chaplaincy a USW you can read it here.

Thanks Glamorgan!

Submitted by Hattie on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 – 23:32


in Faith in Action

I’m on my way back from visiting the newly named University of South Wales (formerly Glamorgan University), sitting on a train and reflecting about what has gone on today. I’ve done an awful lot of this this year (see Trains, tears and trafficking). I’ve been speaking to a group of students about human trafficking, its occurrence in the UK and my work with the West Midlands Regional Anti-Trafficking Network. This is not out of the ordinary, it is a workshop I have run many times before, but this evening it feels as if something special has happened.


The student body at the University of South Wales is possibly one of the most international I have ever come across. The evaluation forms people filled in at the end of my time indicate that there were individuals in this evening’s session hailing from India, Portugal, Israel and Latin America to name just a few locations. The variety did not end there, the chaplaincy at the University of South Wales is a multi-faith facility and so there were representatives of many faith groups in attendance.  This diversity brought a huge richness to this evening’s discussion. Human trafficking occurs in nearly every country in the world. The fact that everyone approached the topic in hand from a different perspective, often literally a different location in the world, meant that the stories being shared, and the questions being asked truly reflected this global nature. I have come away buzzing with things I need to look up and questions that I need to answer.

More than this though, the passion for change among the group this evening re-reminded me that there are individuals all over the world that want to change the world for the better. Caught up in the day to day tasks of my current work, it can sometimes seem hard to see where the small steps I am trying to make are leading. Evenings like this evening help to change this, giving me hope that we can make a difference and that, one day, we might find ourselves in a world where injustice is a thing of the past.  



Faith in Action Intern

Want to find out more about the Faith in Action Project? Want to hear from speakers engaged in anti-trafficking work in the UK? Want to find out how we can help destitute asylum seekers? Want to meet students who are passionate about faith and social justice? Why not come to ‘Life to the Full…Putting Faith into Action’? Find out more on the event’s page.


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Health Care Fellowship Prayers, May 2013

Begin by reading Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

‘A time to be born and a time to die…’ Christians often say they’re not afraid of death, rather it’s the process of dying that they are anxious about. As Health care professionals we walk with people through illness, anxiety, fear, death and dying.

For Jesus there was a time to be born and a time to die. He lived fully knowing his death was approaching. Yet he lived his dying, trusting God, caring and giving to others to the end…


  • Pray for those who are approaching death, in hospice, hospital and home. Pray for those who care for them medically and spiritually.
  • Pray for Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr

 Prince Charles Hospital Merthyr

Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil has around 430 beds, and provides acute emergency and elective medical and surgical services, Intensive Care and Coronary Care; consultant-led obstetrics services with Special Care Baby Unit, inpatient consultant-led paediatric medicine and has a busy Accident and Emergency unit. There are seven operating theatres. Pray for all healthcare and management staff, and all who are patients today.

 As we pray for health care in North America, pray especially for those whose financial situations leave them anxious about accessing treatment they need. 


Pray for the staff and students of HESAS, especially in times of transition and change.

 ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.’ John 14:27

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Health Care Prayers March 2013

You may like to begin by reading Luke 5:17-25, and reflecting again on the authority of Jesus and on the multi-faceted nature of the healing Christ brings to people.

In the light of that passage we pray:

  • for Christians working in the healthcare field, that they may be aware of their faith as an integral part of their work, and of their work as an integral part of their faith, and that they may have the strength, courage and wisdom they need to be true and good witnesses.
  • for the strengthening of spiritual influence in the work of healthcare and the thinking behind it; praying that there may be a culture of real care for people, and a recognition of the true nature and value of human life
  • acknowledging our belief as Christians that Jesus Christ is Lord of healthcare as of everything else: that the ultimate power is not with scientific knowledge, nor with personal ambition, nor with the economic restraints or the so-called political “realities”, but with Jesus Christ, in whose sight ever human soul is precious, and in whom God came into the world to bring life in all its fullness.


We pray:

  • for those directly involved in care…
  • for those who are in training…
  • for those doing scientific research…
  • for those with the responsibility of administration…
  • for those who are caring in situations of great poverty…
  • for those ministering specifically to people’s spiritual needs…


This month we pray especially for staff and patients in Ysybty Dewi Sant and Y Bwthyn, Pontypridd, and for local churches and their ministry in hospitals

We pray for the students and staff of the School of Care Sciences, and any of them who are in particular need.

‘May the Lord bless you and take care of you; May the Lord be kind and gracious to you; May the Lord look on you with favour and give you peace.’  (Numbers 6:24-26)

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Health Care Prayers, February 2013

You may like to begin by reading Luke 5:12-16.

What particularly strikes you in this reading? The compassion of Jesus; the desperation of the man; the way he is restored not just to physical health but also to his community and to the ability to work; the need Jesus had to regain his strength.

Allow the passage to guide you as you pray… 

  • For the staff and students of HESAS
  • For those newly arrived in this country
  • For those nearing the end of training and seeking a post
  • For all health care professionals and managers, the gift of compassion and its renewal in fatigue
  • For the staff of Llwynpia Hospital, Cwm Rhondda and the George Thomas Hospital in Treorchy
  • For the patients of those hospitals and their families
  • For all involved in Health Care across Asia, particularly in situations known to you
  • For the 203 Welsh Field Hospital in Afghanistan
  • For ourselves, the refreshment and renewal of God’s Spirit 

Lord Jesus Christ, Lover of all, we ask your blessing on doctors and nurses, on all who look after those who are ill, who give friendship to those who are distressed, or sit with those who are near to death. 

We ask your guidance for those who are engaged in medical research, that they may persevere with vision and energy; and for those who administer the agencies of health and welfare, that they may have wisdom and compassion.

Lord Jesus Christ, Lover of all, bring healing, bring peace.

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Health Care Prayers, January 2013

You may like to begin by reading Matthew 8:1-1-4, and 9:18-22. Both these episodes remind us of people’s vulnerability in illness, and the deep compassion of Jesus. We also recognise the isolation that illness and suffering bring, and how part of God’s healing is restoring people to their families and  to their communities.


In all our caring, we pray that God will bond the power of His Spirit with all those processes for health and healing with which he has created human beings. We also pray that our caring might be such as to enable the healing of relationships and communities.


Please pray for:

  • Government campaigns aimed at getting us all to live more healthily, and all those things which drive us to look for comfort and escape in behaviour which harms us.


  • Health services under pressure due to seasonal illness in patients and staff.


  • For a renewed valuing and growth of compassion in our society in general, and in particular in contexts of caring.


  • For the staff and patients in the different departments at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital: Accident & Emergency; High Dependency Unit; operating theatres; Cardiac Unit; Pediatric unit; Special Care Baby Unit; Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; Acute Mental Health Unit; Ophthalmic unit.


  • For Health Care provision in Africa, especially those involved in treating patients suffering from  HIV/Aids and from malaria. Pray that steps make be taken towards the eradication of malaria.


  • For the staff and students of the School of Care Sciences.
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Health Care Prayers for December 2012


This last year has been for many a pressurised time. Increasing demands and decreasing resources mean that it easy to become demoralised and weary. Yet into these cold and sometimes gloomy days breaks the light of Advent hope, – the coming of Emmanuel, God with us, and the promise of the coming Kingdom of God.


Read Isaiah 65:17ff and catch a fresh glimpse of God’s promised new heavens and new earth, where ‘the sound of weeping…will be heard no more’. In God’s promised new creation ‘no more will an infant live but a few days…or an old person not live out a lifetime…No more will they labour in vain or bear children for calamity…’


So let’s encourage one another as we watch, wait and work for the coming of God’s Kingdom!



  • We pray for those known to us who are feeling weary or discouraged in their work


  • We pray as ‘Compassion in Practice’ is launched, that it may be used by God to encourage all that is best in Health Care.


  • We pray for hospital wards and other services under pressure due to the sickness of staff


  • We pray for those in hospital over Christmas-time and for all health care staff who care for them


  • We pray for those with mental health issues, especially those affected by the seasons


  • We pray especially for the staff and patients of the George Thomas Hospital, St Tydfil’s Hospital and Pontypridd Cottage Hospital


  • We pray for all HESAS staff and students, especially those we know.


  • We pray for international students, far from home at Christmas


  • We pray for those affected by HIV/AIDS, both in this country and across the world.


  • We pray for families ravaged by AIDS across the world: families left without young adults; children left without parents.


  • We pray for hospital chaplains and Christian health care professionals: that God’s spirit will give wisdom and compassion as we serve him within the Health Service.



The Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings!’

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Interfaith week – Volunteering

A celebration of ‘Volunteering Together’ took place at the Meeting House last week as part of Interfaith Week.

People of all faiths and none give their time and energy to helping others in the community, and this is often a way in which people of different faiths, and those of no particular faith, come together in a common cause.

Volunteering is this year’s theme for the nationwide Interfaith Week. It is linked to the recognition, in this Jubilee year, of Her Majesty the Queen’s sixty years of faithful service.

The event was an opportunity for students to meet organisations within and outside the University that invite people to volunteer with them, and to learn about what they do and what kind of help students can give. More than 25 organisations, ranging from small local groups to nationwide and international charities, and representing different faiths and cultures, were displaying what they do and chatting with students about the possibilities of volunteering.

At the formal launch today the Director of Chaplain Services, Vaughan Rees, welcomed all those who came, and congratulated them on the work they do. ‘You work hard day in day out, year in year out’ he said, ‘and sometimes you probably feel it is a thankless task. But it is hugely appreciated by many people who are helped by it, and today we want to celebrate it and say a big thank you.’

Volunteering, he said, is encouraged by the University not only as a way in which students can gain skills that improve their employment opportunities, but also because it is a vital part of the all-round education for life and citizenship that is more than academic qualifications.

He thanked all whose help and advice had contributed to the event, including the Students’ Union, Glam Edge, Glamvol and Interlink. He also thanked the students who are part of the Meeting House family, especially Pouria Islampour for his creative design for the posters. Most especially he expressed gratitude to the Associate Chaplain Susan Stevenson for the excellent way in which she planned and organised the event.  

Euros Evans, Head of Careers and Employability Services formally opening the event, talked about the University’s Glam Edge initiative which provides students with a ‘passport to employment’ based on their volunteering activities. Speaking from his own experience, he said that one of the effects of volunteering is that we learn more about ourselves. Volunteering helps us gain transferable skills in team work, management, communication, decision making, problem solving and other areas. He commended all those who attended and took part, and encouraged students to take up volunteering opportunities.

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Is the Meeting House a Cathedral?

We like to think too that there is a sacredness about the Meeting House:  not the “holy” atmosphere created by mysterious dark spaces, candles and incense, but an atmosphere of hospitality, friendship and unconditional welcome. If people feel this when they come into the Meeting House, we believe they have felt something of God just as truly as in any church, temple, mosque, gurdwara or cathedral.

Recent research has shown that about eleven million people visit the Church of England’s cathedrals each year. In an age when church congregations are declining, this is quite remarkable.

The visitors are not of course all “worshippers”, in the sense of Christian believers who come to attend a service. Many would be described as “tourists”, who are drawn by the architecture, the art and the history, or simply visiting because it is a famous place. Some come for cultural events that have no direct “religious” content, others simply because they find it a place of quiet, welcome and space.

But who is to say which is which? Surveys of visitors suggest that many who would not call themselves “religious” feel a sense of the sacred when they are in a cathedral. Some come as tourists and are surprised by what they feel. Cathedrals have never been just a place of worship for members of the Church: they have always been a focus for the community life of a wider community, and a kind of sign of the presence of God at the heart of the city.

The Chaplaincy’s Meeting House on the Treforest campus is a bit like that. It doesn’t have the dimensions or the beauty of a cathedral – though of course there’s no accounting for tastes! But it is a place where people of all faiths and none come for all kinds of purposes – to meet friends, to have fun, to learn, to raise money for good causes and so on – and a place where one can find quiet to pray or meditate. In these senses the Meeting House offers students and staff a cathedral experience at the heart of the University.

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Homosexuality: A Journey

The journalist and activist Symon Hill talked at the Meeting House last week about his personal journey. With moving honesty, he spoke of his early days as an enthusiastic Christian when he imbibed the teaching of his church that homosexual activity was condemned by God as a sin. He went on to tell how experience had changed him, and how he had come to a fuller appreciation of the body as God’s creation and of the beautiful variety that is in human beings, an insight that included accepting himself as a bisexual.

He also talked about a literal journey he undertook last year – a walk from Birmingham to London as a ‘pilgrimage of repentance’ for homophobia. This attracted a lot of media attention and led to numerous conversations both in formal meetings and in chance encounters along the way.

One particularly interesting story was of the night when his accommodation arrangements fell through and he was taken in at the last minute by a minister who held very anti-gay views but was committed to the Christian emphasis on the importance of hospitality. At breakfast the next morning he and his host had a deep and intimate conversation. Whilst he didn’t claim that any great miracle happened during that conversation he did feel that it was somewhat transformative as they both were affected by their encounter.   If they had met in a public debate they would have taken up opposing positions and scored points against each other, but in that close private encounter they were both able to find a deeper mutual understanding.

This story reflects an important part of what the Meeting House is all about. Its most important work is done through people of all cultures, beliefs and opinions simply coming in, chatting, socialising, becoming friends, and talking about all kinds of issues. It is when we meet as human beings, being ourselves and listening to others that we really grow as people.

The Chaplaincy organised this event as a ‘meeting of minds’ to open up discussion of an important topic. Watch out for further events this term.

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Healthcare Prayers, October 2012

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…(2 Corinthians 4:7 and 8)

These very honest words are full of realism, but also full of promise. In the light of the truth they hold, we pray for one another and for many, patients and health care professionals, so many people ‘going through it’ but by God’s grace not ‘going under’.


  • We pray for all who are responsible for decision making in these difficult financial times; and for all who are at the sharp end of delivering care in times of cuts


  • We pray for all hospices in UK and elsewhere: for those who work day by day giving care to patients and their families, – that God would renew their strength and their hope as they give out so much. We pray too for those facing the reality of death this day…


  • We pray for medical and nursing students beginning or continuing their studies this term, – that they will be people of deep and deepening compassion. We pray particularly for those studying here at Glamorgan, and those who teach them.


  • We pray for overseas students, in all the adapting to a new situation, – and for the families they leave behind.


  • We pray for staff and patients at our local hospitals, especially the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and Dewi Sant Hospital in Pontypridd


  • We pray for health care workers in the armed forces, particularly those currently serving in Afghanistan, and the Chaplains who work alongside them


  • We pray for health care workers across Europe, in many situations facing cuts and shortages


  • We pray for those engaged in medical research


You may like to conclude by praying the Lord’s Prayer with all these people in mind…`

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