UWTSD Swansea chaplain provides support, friendship and guidance to students


The Reverend Sam Aldred based at the University’s Swansea campuses is available to provide support, friendship and guidance to students.


The Reverend Sam Aldred based at the University’s Swansea campuses is available to provide support, friendship, and guidance to students.

When he is not supporting students, Sam works as a curate at St Mary’s Church in Swansea City Centre. Here and at the university he has a focus on providing informal opportunities for young people to get together and chat. Evensong at St Mary’s, which some of the university’s students attend, is followed by a trip to a pub. Other activities attended by students include regular group walks on the Gower.

“We go out and have a walk and an open-air service and go to a pub for lunch,” says Sam. “It’s about creating an authentic community where people get to know each other - that’s what I am trying to do with the chaplaincy in a small way.”

In his chaplaincy role Sam also holds regular events throughout the year on key dates such as Shrove Tuesday, when he gave away about 150 pancakes, and Christmas, when he held a carol service. These events are usually followed by an informal get-together that provides students with the opportunity to get to know Sam and each other. Students also have the opportunity to arrange regular sessions with Sam.

“On one hand it’s about just being there for people to talk to,” says Sam. “With the clergy people can talk about the big philosophical ‘what are we here for’ questions. We can also link people to worshipping communities.”

Sam and one of the university’s students, Katie Goodall, featured on the Radio 4 programme All Things Considered on July 19 earlier this month discussing student loneliness. This is one of many issues that a university chaplain can help with, providing a unique type of support and guidance that is different from other forms of support such as counselling.

For Katie, Sam was a key source of support and guidance and helped her find a church.

“Sam was someone who listened – but not a counsellor or tutor; it was important to have someone outside all of that to just talk to.”

She also received valuable guidance as a new Christian.

“Sam was the perfect person to be able to ask. He was very nice and very open, and someone who knew what they were talking about.”

Both Sam and Katie feel that student loneliness is sometimes an issue that often gets overlooked because people imagine students to have vibrant social lives. For Katie, a key issue has been going back home during lockdown, which has separated her from her university friends.

“Many young people are uprooted from any sense of community when they come to university,” says Sam. “Students are often surrounded by thousands of people their own age, so they are not physically alone but they can still sometimes feel isolated and lost. You can be in a lecture theatre or on Wind Street and have an existential sense of being alone – and it’s a joy to be able to offer a Christian response to that. I tell people there is a way a path that has been trodden by millions of people before you, it’s free to anyone who wants to come in regardless of race or gender, and it’s a community of people who come together for something bigger than themselves.”

Whether helping students find a worshipping group that suits them or being a sounding board for people asking some of the biggest questions in life, Sam is pleased to be available to students at UWTSD.

“It’s a privilege to meet people from all different backgrounds and just to be able to talk to them about the big questions,” he says. “In a world where people often don’t talk, but just shout at each other, it’s important to really try and engage with people.”

* Picture of Reverend Sam Aldred and students at St Mary's Church in Swansea was taken before lockdown.


Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Mobile: 07384 467071

Email: Rebecca.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk