Our history so far

Beachy Head Chaplaincy began operations on the 8th August 2004, following a year  of preperations. Within 40 minutes of beginning we had our first rescue from the cliff edge. At that time the team was made up of six trained volunteers. We began by providing proactive patrols during the evenings only, 7 days a week. Proactive patrols were chosen over a purely on call set up, because so many of those coming to Beachy Head were not yet classed as missing (hence were not being searched for), and time is of the essence to safely rescue someone.Over the following months we continued to add to our number in order to strengthen our patrols.

In August 2005 we officially began our On-call response team enabling us to operate on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, throughout the year. This team not only responded to calls for assistance from the proactive teams, but also responded to missing person searches when the proactive teams were  not operating. These calls for assistance were not only to Beachy Head but also to surrounding areas during a suicide intervention.

In the beginning of 2007 proactive patrols began during the daytimes. These increased from a few hours of patrols in the beginning through to full day patrol teams, 7 days a week.

In late 2010 we began to look at how the team needed to develop in order to grow and succeed over the next decade. Sustaining the standard of response to the high number of incidents the team was now seeing became a serious concern. By this time BHCT, in regards to its work as a search and rescue team, was one of the busiest teams in the UK, with over 700 searches a year. It was realised that to survive and flourish, BHCT needed to support its teams of loyal volunteers with full time staff. At this time BHCT had only one employee. As part of this process, the team began a restructuring that continues to this day. In place of the old structure of Director, Operations Team Leader and Deputy Operations Team Leader, came a structure which enabled sustainable growth. The team continues to  develop during  2012. When complete the team structure will comprise the following:

BHCT Director (DIR) . The Director oversees the day to day running of BHCT. He is involved in the creation and application of the strategic plan and oversees teams involved in Finance, Marketing, Fundraising, Training and Operations. He is also the lead trainer for BHCT and is involved in Suicide Intervention Training for a number of external organisations. The Director is directly responsible to the Board of Trustees

Operations Manager (OM). The Operations Manager oversees all the front line operations of BHCT as well as overseeing teams responsible for Aftercare, Administration and Prayer. The OM also assists in the training of all operational staff. The Operations Manager is directly responsible to the BHCT Director.

Senior Operations Supervisor (SOS). The Senior Operations Supervisor provides supervisionof the Frontline, On-call and Search Teams, as well as providing oversight of the care of all the operational equipment and vehicles. The SOS also provides administration of day to day operations as well as liaison with external agencies at an operational level. The SOS also assists in the training of all operational staff. The SOS also carries out regular proactive and on call duties. The Senior Operations Supervisor is directly responsible to the Operations Manager.

Assistant Operations Supervisor (AOS). There are soon to be two Assistant Operations Supervisors. The AOS provides supervision of the Frontline, On-call and Search Teams under the direction of the SOS. The AOS also assists the SOS in the provision of “on the job” training for all operational staff as well as carrying out regular proactive and on call duties. The Assistant Operations Supervisors are directly responsible to the Senior Operations Supervisor.

The Supervisory staff provide on-call response cover to all operational teams 24 hours a day.

Presently BHCT consists of 16 Frontline Team members. Our Proactive Frontline Team patrols over 100 hours a week, every week of the year and our On-call Response Teams provides on call cover 24 hours a day.