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It may be answer to our prayers; SMETHWICK Shoppers back Asda's appeal for a padre.

Byline: By Steve Johnson

HEAVENS above ! A new superstore's plans to bring in a chaplain could be the answer to their prayers, say Smethwick shoppers.

That was the verdict from people in Cape Hill after the Black Country Mail revealed yesterday how the new pounds 25 million Asda store in Windmill Lane was recruiting an in-store "friendly shoulder." Asda, which opens the new store on October 31, is searching for local members of the religious community to come forward and do one or two hours a week.

Customers and staff who wish to talk about anything ranging from the price of eggs to more serious issues such as relationship problems will be able to take guidance and advice from the chaplain, in private if necessary.

The idea has already worked successfully at other Asda stores up and down the country and the plan got a big thumbs-up from shoppers in Cape Hill.

Pensioner Vinitte Powell, aged 69, from Ladywood, said she could not wait for the new Asda to open and bringing in a chaplain was an excellent idea.

"What's wrong with a bit of spiritual advice along with the shopping? We have a chaplain at my doctor's surgery in Ladywood and it's a good thing.

"It's unusual to have a chaplain in a supermarket, I suppose, but I am sure I will be having a chat with whoever is appointed. "I worship at the Christian Centre in West Bromwich and my daughter, Beverley French, is a minister there.

"So I am very much in favour of this idea."

Another shopper, 64-year old Val Harris, of Suffrage Street, just yards from the new store, said she was not a churchgoer, but she could see it could be a good idea. "We shall have to see how it goes, but I feel it would be very handy to have a chaplain in the store should anyone feel the need to talk to someone about any problems they may have," she said.

Sute Yengo, aged 31, from West Bromwich, who worships at the Christian Centre in the town, also welcomed

the move by the superstore. "I am a religious person and spreading the word, wherever it is, has got to be a good thing."

Teenager Natasha Miller, aged 18, lives in Handsworth and is a regular attender at the Church of God of Prophecy.

She starts her first job tomorrow as a sales assistant when a new Matalan store, next to Asda, opens its doors. She said: "I am a Christian and attend church regularly. There is certainly nothing wrong with having a chaplain in the new Asda and I am sure it will be very helpful for many people."

Catholics Jim Ray, aged 81, and Julie McFarlane, aged 43, who both worship at the nearby St Philip's Church in Messenger Road, and gave the idea the thumbs-up.

Jim, a regular at the church for 40 years, said: "This won't do any harm at all. the chaplain will talk to anyone and it can only be a good thing."

Julie, of Davison Road, added: "People have got to go in the store to do their shopping and I think quite a few people will be taking advantage of the presence of a chaplain. I think it's a very good idea."

Anyone interested in applying for the role of chaplain, whatever their faith or denomination, at Asda can write to Donna Cash at the Asda recruitment centre, Churchill Street, Smethwick

Is chaplain a good idea

What do you think? Write to Black Country Mail, PO BOX 78, Weaman Street, Birmingham, B4 6AY or send an e-mail to steve_johnson@mrn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

OPENING SOON... Asda's pounds 25 million superstore in Windmill Lane, Cape Hill, Smethwick; VERY HELPFUL MOVE... Natasha Miller, Sute Yengo and Val Harris are in favour of a chaplain; I WILL BE HAVING A CHAT... Vinitte Powell, Julie McFarlane and Jim Ray speak out in Cape Hill
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 19, 2005
Words:658
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