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Airbus backs multifaith prayer room and garden

13 October 2023

Chester diocese

Andy Liston at the Broughton plant with the Bishop of Chester’s adviser for curate development and clergy transitions, the Revd Jenny Bridgman

Andy Liston at the Broughton plant with the Bishop of Chester’s adviser for curate development and clergy transitions, the Revd Jenny Bridgman

THE man responsible for the physical safety of almost 5000 staff with Britain’s biggest aircraft maker has developed a new function: fostering faith and well-being in the workplace.

Andy Liston is the Site Safety Box Facilitator at the Airbus site at Broughton, in Flintshire, which builds wings for the A300-series airliner. He is also training as a pastoral worker with Chester diocese, and, with the support of Airbus, has introduced a prayer garden and prayer room into his workplace.

Mr Liston, who has worked at Airbus for 34 years, and currently leads safety training for all its workers, said: “As we go through the training, a big part of that is on well-being.” Although he displays a cross on his office wall, however, he did not proselytise, he said. “They can see the faith through me, I don’t have to mention God. They can see and almost feel that I’m there to help.”

Two years ago, a Muslim trainee asked him whether there was a room in which he could pray. This request, and Mr Liston’s follow-up, led to the company’s introducing its first multi-faith prayer room, and a prayer garden close to the main reception.

“Airbus feels the benefit, as it allows people to bring their whole selves to work,” he said. “They don’t need to hide away, they can just nip out for ten minutes and say a prayer.”

Chester dioceseThe Remembrance garden

The prayer garden arrived after Mr Liston organised a Remembrance Day service, and the head of the plant, Jerome Blandin, agreed that the site needed a focal point, which could also be a peace and well-being garden. “It’s within work — but it’s just a few metres away from work,” Mr Liston said.

The design and communications officer for Chester diocese, Stephen Freeman, said: “We think it’s a great story of how faith has a role to play in the workplace, and that a global company such as Airbus thinks so, too.

“The prayer garden and the prayer room are situated at the front and rear of the factory”

“Andy has brought an ethos and an energy surrounding the subject of faith that he lives 24 hours day, and which has been welcomed and embraced by a huge company. It is a very visual reminder of how Airbus has fully embraced faith in the workplace, and recognises that enabling people to live out their faith 24 hours a day, including their time at work, is an essential part of helping people to feel whole, respected, and complete.”

Mr Blandin said that Airbus was “immensely proud” to support both Mr Liston and the multi-faith group. “The garden, along with the prayer room, reflects this ongoing commitment to religious diversity in the workplace. It is vital that all Airbus employees, whichever faith they choose to practice, have a safe place in which they can do so when at work.

“Everyone at Airbus should be able to bring their full self to work and have all the means necessary to support them throughout their working day.”

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