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Chaplaincy and faith advice

 At Northumbria, we see wellbeing as related to all dimensions of a person’s being: cultural, social and spiritual as well as physical, emotional and academic. Our chaplains are on hand to help you by offering a listening ear, encouragement, prayer and, sometimes, advice. Chaplains are happy to talk with you whatever your stance on life and its meanings. Our work includes:

  • “Spiritual life-coaching” or “spiritual accompaniment” -helping you to explore perplexities of meaning and direction in life
  • Helping groups to meet in Chaplaincy rooms (or other parts of the University)
  • Facilitating opportunities for prayer, worship and spiritual exploration
  • Finding and disseminating information on local places of worship: churches, synagogues, mosques, mandir, gurdwara and other similar places
  • Advising on the quiet spaces and prayer places that are available on campus, including the Peace Room, the Quiet Room, the meeting room and the Muslim Prayer Facility
  • Click here to register online to gain access to the Muslim Prayer Rooms
  • Linking up the University, student faith societies and student faith groups based outside the university and the Students' Union.
  • Promoting understanding between people of different life-stances and encouraging dialogue, debate and respectful and frank exchanges of views.



Ssw _accredContact Us

Tel: +44 (0) 191 227 3284


Meet the Team

Andii _bowsherRev Andii Bowsher (Church of England) 
Co-ordinating Chaplain

The Chaplaincy
Room 407
Wynne Jones Building
Tel: 0191 227 3284 (office)
Twitter: @NbriaChafa 


I was the first member of my family to go to university and being and undergraduate and then undertaking postgraduate study in my professional training has been huge for me. I learnt so much and my horizons were widened and my mind sharpened with facing questions about my faith and my studies.

I was not brought up as part of church. I began to take spiritual things seriously in my mid-teens. Part of that involved reading the Gospels. As I did so for the first time, I inwardly sensed for myself Jesus’s call to follow him –which I did (obviously). And it was going to university that gave me the chance to really explore faith, and where I discovered that having a faith perspective could really assist a helpfully critical approach to learning.

I’m  keen to help people grow into their potential and put aside the barriers that can keep us from growing. Part of what I offer is to meet regularly with individuals for personal and spiritual-growth coaching, drawing on my experience as a spiritual director and a life coach (my MA dissertation combined these subjects).

I have a long-standing interest in linguistics, cultural studies, spirituality, and the dialogue between science and faith. I try to keep in touch with the arts (visual, music and drama) both actively and appreciatively. I’ve been in leadership of several churches many in inner urban areas and have been involved in chaplaincy at two colleges and one other university as well as a theatre.

Please do be in touch, I look forward to meeting you. 

 Andrew Shaw

Father Andrew Shaw (Roman Catholic)

Catholic Chaplaincy
14 Windsor Terrace


I was born in 1973 in Sydney Australia and came to the United Kingdom with my British parents when they return home to Newcastle.  We settled in Northumberland close to where my Dad found work and I lived there for majority of my life (so far).  In 1989 I left school, found employment and worked for the next 10 years in banking here on the Mainland and also Off Shore in the Channel Islands.

In 1999 I entered Seminary (Priests Training) at Ushaw College, Durham.  In 2003 after graduating with a BA in Theology and Ministry I left Seminary taking time to discern what direction God was asking me to live my life.  During this time, I found employment with Byker Bridge Housing Association.  I worked and managed a number of schemes working with vulnerable adults from the age of 16.  This varied from the re settlement of young offenders to supporting people with a variety of complex needs.

In 2006 I re-entered Seminary and was ordained a priest for the Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.  Since then I have worked in Durham, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Newcastle City Centre.  I have also been a priest chaplain, Governor and Associate Governor to a number of primary and secondary schools. I was asked to move here to Newcastle in January 2016 to be Parish Priest of Saint Andrews, Worswick Street and Catholic Chaplain to the Freeman and RVI hospitals and also the Centre for Aging and Vitality along with ministering to Catholic patients who are receiving palliative care in the Marie Currie Hospice. 

September 2018 a new chapter begins. I was asked by the Bishop of the Diocese to minister to the Catholic students who are arriving and living in and around the city of Newcastle.  I am excited and looking forward to undertaking this new ministry, working alongside the wider chaplaincy team and meeting you regardless of whether you are a person of faith, just looking or of no faith.  Take care and I hope to see you around on Campus.  Do say hello if you recognise me from my photo.  

Aaron _lipseyRabbi Aaron Libsey (Jewish)

Graham Park Road
Tel:  07793 74 64 54

I am the Jewish Chaplain here at Northumbria University as well as the other universities in the North East. In my spare time I lead a community of real people based in Gosforth. Last year in a moment of madness I enrolled on a Masters program in Religions and Theology at the University of Manchester and I have spent the last twelve months sheepishly explaining to all who will listen how Northumbria is a great place to study despite not choosing to do so myself.

Just for kicks I sit on the executive of the Rabbinical Council of the Provinces, organising conferences and training days for colleagues in the provincial Rabbinate. If you need to know about conference facilities anywhere in the UK from Aberdeen to erm.. somewhere that begins with a Z, I'm your man.

If you have deep and meaningful questions about religion, faith and God I will offer you my unique Jewish perspective (assuming I can’t run away from you quickly enough) but be warned that this often means answering a question with yet more questions. Why? “Well”, as a famously wise Rabbi once responded, “why not?”

My claim to fame is having a last name that sounds like a designer brand and I am proud to be the only plane-spotting Rabbi in the North East. This is really much more cool and exciting than you might otherwise think...

 Chris _millionChris Million
Associate Chaplain for Coach Lane

Before coming to Northumbria to work as a Senior Lecturer in Education, I was a Primary and Special School Head Teacher for many years.  The student experience of higher education is my main driver and I feel that I have a privileged position to work with the students as an Associate Lecturer here at the Coach Lane Campus.

I became a Christian many years ago and this has been the driving force of my life ever since.  I belong to a free church in Northumberland and my life has been adventurous to say the least;  I feel that this greatly benefits my role as an Associate Chaplain. I find that students are more than willing to talk with me about what concerns them most, whether it is a matter of faith, pastoral care or indeed an issue of the moment that concerns them.

I have many interests, not least playing the piano and the arts in general, and feel that I enjoy life to the full. Please never hesitate to get in contact with me, as I am very happy to support you and talk things through in any way.

Pauline _pearsonPauline Pearson
Associate Chaplain for Coach Lane

My first link with what is now Northumbria University was in 1973, when I came to Newcastle Polytechnic to study on a preregistration nursing degree programme (the third or fourth such in the UK).  After working in A&E for a year, I trained as a health visitor (also here) and worked in Newcastle for 16 years before becoming an academic. I came back to this University in 2010.

Most of my ‘day job’ is about doing and co-ordinating research about health and social care. I am Research and Innovation Lead for the Department of Healthcare, in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, based at Coach Lane Campus. My research looks at new ways of doing things in practice, and the experiences of staff and service users. Much of the research I do involves work with older people, with families and communities and in mental health. I also teach on some of our Masters programmes and help in selecting students for the adult nursing degree.

I have always been actively involved with church and in trying to apply my faith in my work. Back in the 1980’s I was involved in working as part of a community health development project – the Riverside Project - and was asked to give evidence to the ‘Faith in the City’ Report.  In 2005 I was ordained as a Church of England minister, and in my spare time have served in Denton (in the west end of Newcastle) and now in Jesmond – where I am Associate Priest at St George’s and St Hilda’s. I think that it is important for people of faith to look at how that faith makes a difference in their day to day life.

Whoever you are, staff or student, person of faith or not, I look forward to meeting you.

Tracey Hopwood
Methodist Chaplain

It’s fantastic to be in Newcastle – what’s not to love? It’s got coast, a vibrant city centre, beautiful countryside, a passion for the beautiful game, and wonderful people. (If chaplaincy doesn’t work out, I’m thinking of working for the local Tourist Board!)

As a Christian I am passionate about living out my faith and desire to positively impact whatever environment I am in. To me, this means loving others unconditionally, seeking to help and support wherever I can and being willing to go the extra mile to support others. I am here to work with both staff and students, with people of faith and people of no faith and anyone in between! I love discussing issues around faith particularly with those who have lots of questions. I also enjoy supporting those who have a faith and want to develop it further. I enjoy supporting others regardless of whether or not they want to discuss faith issues and think that sometimes it’s just good to know there is someone there for you to talk to if needed.

I have a BA Hons Degree from Loughborough University in Sports Science and History with Education, a Masters in Education from Newcastle University and a Masters in Theology from Bristol University. I’ve been a Head of Department in a school, a Lecturer in F.E., a Student Worker with various organisations, a Student Engagement Officer and a Senior Student Support Officer. I really enjoy working with students! I enjoy all sport and am an ex P.E. Teacher (please don’t hold that against me – I’ve heard many horror stories!) I have a particular love of the beautiful game and am a lifelong Liverpool supporter as well as an FA Level 2 Coach.

I love being by the coast, going to the cinema and theatre, stand up comedy and comedy shows and T.V. especially good dramas as well as I’m a Celeb and The Apprentice.

A _merritt _smithAlison Merritt Smith
Associate Chaplain for Arts

I was brought up in Glasgow and spent five years in Edinburgh studying Theology and Philosophy where I was involved in various music and art projects around the city. It was there that I gained a love for independent coffee shops and tea houses - I always need an excuse to chat over a cuppa.

I moved to Newcastle in 2010 to be part of starting art and community space, The Holy Biscuit which is right on the edge of campus, in Ouseburn. I live in Heaton and am most happy when walking through Heaton Park on a sunny day.

I love watching good films, making comfort food and cycling my bike. I have a lovely daughter called Sophia and am proud to be married to Tom who is a Maths teacher, musician and computer programmer.

I love living in Newcastle – it is such a vibrant city and being here has given me so many new perspectives on how we might live in the world and make it a better place. I try to be an activist and I’m interested in contemporary art, theology, feminism, social change and spirituality. I grew up in an evangelical Christian missionary family but I have diverse experiences of Christian faith and have lived in several Muslim countries.

I feel privileged to be part of the chaplaincy team and hope I can contribute to university life in creative and exciting ways. I work part time but please do not hesitate to get in touch whether you are interested in a project or you just need a chat.

Phillip _ballardPhillip Ballard
Associate Chaplain for International Students

Tel: 0191 212 5121

Although born in London I have lived in Newcastle for most of my life. It is a wonderful place to live and work.

I worked as a solicitor in Newcastle for 30 years before retiring in 2010. I now run cafes for international students in Newcastle. The Globe cafes, which have been running for over 16 years, intend to offer a welcoming and safe meeting place for international students studying in Newcastle.

The cafe meets every Monday night from 7.30 to 10.00pm. We provide a meal for those who want to eat and a variety of activities from 'desserts from around the world' to 'line dancing'. We offer students an opportunity to meet British people, learn about our culture and practice their English.

I look forward to meeting you in Newcastle.


Shahjalal Choudhury, Muslim Chaplain

I was born in the town of Keighly, West Yorkshire but have lived in Newcastle since I was four years old. Despite my place of birth, I consider myself a true Geordie (raised and bred)!I grew up as a Muslim and was inspired by my late father to become an Imaam and Khateeb (one who delivers the sermons) and give back to the community and wider society. Growing up as a British Muslim taught me that mutual respect, peace and tolerance is practicable and possible.

I memorised the Holy Qur'aan by the age of sixteen and graduated with a BA degree in Islamic Theology and Arabic Language.

I lead, and have led, the local Ramadan Taraweeh prayers for the last decade. I have also led the prayers and delivered sermons during Ramadan in other countries including Germany, Portugal, Canada and Norway. 

I have experience, locally and abroad, working with mixed faith groups and am always open to questions. One of my aims in life is to prove to people that we can all co-exist and live together despite our faiths and beliefs. We just need to communicate.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with me - It doesn't have to be about Islam! If I can help you in any way, I will try my utmost best to do so.

Until then, 'Gan canny!'


J-singhJaswinder Singh

Sat Nam! My journey began on the most amazing month of the year (July!!) in Slough. Then at the age of 6 I moved to Geordie land, I absolutely love the North East - it’s aptly named God’s country.

I was born into a Punjabi-cultured family who got the chance to experience the best of both worlds (East and West). I grew up working in the family business of real estate, alongside managing retail stores across the Tyne and Wear region.  I gained many skills such as managing and organising, but for me, the most important skill I learnt was connecting with the human race. As I would meet customers and people first hand I realised I could connect with people through listening and understanding.  There was a sudden realisation that there is a longing from so many people to be loved and treated with compassion and respect.

Today I am fortunate to be able to serve many people and organisations that are brought my way in the UK and abroad. I have been lucky to have the resources and means to help set up projects to educate and create awareness about the Sikh way of life. 

If there is any way I can be of service to you whether it be just to have someone to talk to then please get in touch. 

It really is a privilege to be part of the chaplaincy team in this vibrant university!



Grant _wilsonGrant Wilson
URC Chaplain

I am a minister of two churches in the East of Newcastle – St George's URC on Newton Road in High Heaton, and St Cuthbert's on Heaton Road. I came into ministry late in life – my past experience includes a degree in physiotherapy from Northumbria University. I was surprised to find myself back in this part of Newcastle so soon, but I enjoy living and serving God here, and getting alongside people who love doing likewise. I love engaging with our local community through work with organisations like Junction42, MakeLunch, ChangingLives, and Daft As A Brush. You will also find me out in Newcastle city centre with Street Pastors, making contact with rough sleepers and helping clubbers get home safely.


Duncan Moore
Baptist Chaplain

I studied Engineering and Management and I’ve been around Northumbria University forever! I’m also the Team leader of Durham Road Baptist Church in Gateshead. I’m married to Ruth and have a young son, Aidan. In my spare time I love people, photography, I swim, play guitar, read and write.

The chaplains are here for everyone whatever they believe. If you’re working through stuff I can listen confidentially. If you’re thinking about meaning, purpose, direction, spirituality or God I can help you reflect on that. If you have a faith that you want to develop I can help you connect with others to do that. If you’d like to meet up I’d love to meet you.






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