He’s just as likely to engage you in a story about the time his band supported Chumbawumba as he is to enjoy a theological discussion – either way Walsall Healthcare’s new Chaplaincy Team Leader Joe Fielder will always make time for a chat with staff.
Joe joined the trust at the beginning of August, coming to Walsall from Bradford Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust. He has also spent time as a youth worker in Glasgow and worked as a housing officer for social housing in Brent.
“I come from a churchgoing family but my own real interest in God came when I was 16 and I had gone on a go-karting holiday with other young people,” Joe explained.
“I started to seriously consider who Jesus is, what he did and what he means to others and after university – where I interestingly studied marine biology as opposed to anything more associated with belief or spirituality – I went through the selection process to start theological training, or “vicar factory” to put it more simply.”
Joe, who has an identical twin, will freely admit that he loves talking to people, engaging with communities and looking at how he can offer support.
“When I announced I was going to work in Glasgow a number of people shuddered because I was going to a part of the city that would be classed as “challenging.” It was described as an Urban Priority Area at that time and certainly had its challenges. But I absolutely loved it and it really sparked something in me for engaging with people and wanting to connect with them in some way.
“I found the Glaswegian accent very difficult to understand at first but I got there and I think I’ll soon be used to the Walsall accent. I have found the trust to be very warm and friendly so far and I am really looking forward to meeting more staff and talking to them.
“Our staff are so important and I see this role as a good way to reach out to them and offer support, particularly after the incredibly hard few months they have spent managing the Covid-19 pandemic. The Chaplaincy Spiritual Care Team is for everyone, regardless of whether they have a faith or a belief. I will always be happy to discuss my faith and what it means to me and how it has helped me but I am equally happy to have a chat and a laugh and not mention faith or belief at all if staff just want to talk, cry, vent, shout or offload.
“While I am here to support the wider Walsall community I do hope I can help make a difference to our staff.”
In his spare time father-of-three Joe, aged 53, grows his own vegetables, supports Oxford United, cooks “ a stonking curry” and enjoys spending time with his wife, three dogs and a cat. He also has a very unusual hobby – collecting marmite memorabilia!
And don’t get him started about the time he was a drummer in the gothic punk group Dance Macabre.
“We supported Chumbawumba at a gig at Swansea University just before they really hit the big time and it’s right up there as one of the best times of my life,” he said. “I’m not so sure they still talk about it though!”