A Bilton man who was training to become a pastor before volunteering in a prison inspired him to help people one-on-one has just become a railway chaplain.
Father-of-two Colin Fraser studied applied theology in Christchurch with the intention of becoming a church pastor.
But after Mr Fraser, 39, began volunteering at HMP Onley he said he felt his talents were better used in supporting people individually.
“Prison is not the easy life that some parts of the media would have you believe,” he said.
“Prisoners have a lot of time to think, and part of what I did was to help them to take responsibility for what they had done and to help them to rebuild a life.”
He visited the Railway Mission’s headquarters in Rugby after hearing about them through an old friend.
And on August 1 he began working as a railway chaplain, covering an area from Peterborough, Barnsley, Skegness and part of St Pancras Station in London.
He said: “It’s been a lot to take in but I have been enjoying it.
“We offer support to the people that work for different railway companies – I also offer support to eight British Transport Police officers.
“Some people are afraid that we will ‘Bible bash’ them .
“We are a Christian-based organisation and there’s a time to talk about faith, and we will when it’s appropriate – but primarily we are here to provide a non-judgemental listening ear whenever someone needs one.”
On the day Mr Fraser spoke to the Advertsier, September 25, there was a fatality on one of the lines he covers. One of his key roles is to support staff after a fatality on the railways.
“There’s a lot more awareness of suicide, mental health problems and the need to get support,” he said.
“I’ve been making calls to staff affected and they can come for follow-up chats.”
He said he is also approached by people with problems and stresses outside of work.
Mr Fraser, who met his wife while they served on a missionary ship near South Africa, is one of 25 railway chaplains across Britain.
To learn more about the work of the railway chaplains, visit www.railwaymission.org