THE full-time railway-station chaplain at St Pancras in London
has been made redundant, and the future of the post is in
The Revd Jonathan Barker, who was chaplain to St Pancras station
in London for six years (Back
Page Interview, 25 January 2013), said that he thought that the
decision not to continue his contract with the diocese of London
was a "mistake".
A number of staff and organisations working at St Pancras have
spoken out in his support.
Mr Barker said last week: "Although the diocese of London feel
through financial reasons that they have to retreat, to discard a
job like this which has been hugely successful is a massive loss
for future generations of where the Church should be."
Mr Barker said that he had built up good relationships with most
of the 1600 staff at St Pancras.
"Through January, right up to my redundancy, I was being asked
to compose and put back into work ten members of staff a day," he
A senior figure in the UK Border Force team at St Pancras, Simon
Eglesfield, said in a letter to Mr Barker that he was
"Some examples of this are the support and pastoral care you
have provided to the large number of minors who have attempted to
enter the country illegally," he said.
Besides helping to stop human trafficking, Mr Eglesfield wrote
that Mr Barker had also supported distressed travellers who had
been robbed or assaulted, and had been a "calming influence" on his
staff after a "very traumatic incident" last year.
Mr Barker said that the station operator, Network Rail, or its
owner, HS1, should step in to fund a chaplain at St Pancras if the
diocese could not.
Network Rail has not offered to fund his post, however. A
spokesman for the company said that he was unable to comment on the
A spokesman for HS1 said: "While we appreciate the difficulty of
Mr Barker's situation, this is an issue between an employer and the
employee involved, and as such is for the diocese of London and Mr
Barker to resolve."
A spokesman for the diocese said: "The King's Cross area of
London is currently going through a substantial amount of change.
As a consequence, the diocese is providing new ministry configured
in exciting new ways to serve the whole area, which of course
includes work at the station."
Mr Barker said that, without a chaplain, vulnerable and
distressed travellers would have no one else to turn to but the
"What do [the police] do in those circumstances? It doesn't
serve any purpose to throw people off the station, or to fine them,
or to incarcerate them," he said.
One Network Rail employee at St Pancras said last week: "I think
[Mr Barker's leaving] would leave a hole here. He's a lot of
comfort, and staff go to him on a regular basis."
Another woman, who works for Eurostar, said: "Jonathan is
someone you can rely on if you need support. To have him on the
spot, you can resolve an issue easily, straight away." She also
said she would have left Eurostar years ago had it not been for the
support of Mr Barker.
"If he is not there we are going to miss our friend. If after
six years we are losing that . . . we will be kind of lost
The Revd Malcolm Torry, who runs the Greenwich Peninsula
chaplaincy, and wrote a book about workplace chaplaincy in 2010,
said that it was a shame that Mr Barker's position was coming to an
"Around the country, a lot of posts are disappearing," he said.
"London lost almost all of its paid workplace chaplains about 20
years ago. But one understands the financial difficulties dioceses
"London has an economy bigger than most countries. What kind of
care are we providing for people working in this massive