You’re often at your most vulnerable when you move, especially overseas where you can face huge upheaval all at once. And while you’re abroad there can be a lot to deal with – whether it’s loneliness, separation, fitting in to new cultures, relationship issues or illness… the list goes on.

Need a friendly face?

Nia Williams

The EJSU (European Joint Support Unit) chaplaincy team is here for you, and AFF’s former lead for EJSU, Lesley Slater, recently met padres David and Nia to find out more about their roles. They’re here to support your wellbeing and can offer you a safe space to air your worries. It’s informal and confidential and they serve the whole community for all three services and their families, regardless of your customs or beliefs. Nia told Lesley: “Sometimes you just need someone to talk things through with, to offload the problem and regain perspective – off the record, without being judged. You might not always have a supportive friend in the right place when you need one or you may just want to talk to someone independent or outside the chain of command. People approach us for all kinds of things – a one-off chat, something work- or relationship-related, a recent or past bereavement, or just a problem that’s bothering them.”

From another faith – or of no faith – here to support you all

The team can help with pastoral care, spiritual support and moral guidance, information, and signposting. “People often ask if you have to be religious to speak to the padres and the answer is a big no,” says Nia. “We’re here for everyone, irrespective of faith, world philosophy or status.

“Although we are Christian chaplains, we are a multi-faith chaplaincy within the armed forces. We are your key points of contact for all the major world faiths – and reach out to our world-faith colleagues for help with any specialist faith-based enquiries or support that you need.”

Nia and David are both full-time, commissioned chaplains based at SHAPE, supported by two OCMs (Officiating Chaplains to the Military) – one in Naples and the other in Milan.

New ideas

David Norfield

EJSU is a huge area to cover, so David and Nia have been finding ways of doing things differently to achieve the most impact. They divide locations between them to give you a dedicated and recognised point of contact:

  • Nia looks after The Netherlands, Belgium (SHAPE), Northern Germany, Scandinavia, France and Eastern Europe including Poland, Albania, Croatia, Slovakia.
  • David looks after Belgium, Portugal, Turkey, Italy, South West and South East Germany and Spain.

Getting out and about

They have a rolling visiting programme – find out when they’re coming your way through your local Community Liaison Officers. You can book a face-to-face meeting, join in community events or get in touch on the day to chat.

In-between times you can reach them on Zoom, WhatsApp, private message via Facebook, text, email or phone.

Get in touch

“Please do feel free to call, no matter what your concern,” says Nia, “and never be afraid to phone us just because your issue is not related to faith or spirituality. Although the matter will be unique and personal to you, we may have past experience of dealing with a similar situation, and we can point you in the right direction.” or +32 473 62 96 33 or +32 470 66 45 82