The Anchor

The Anchor - HayleyPioneer minister Hayley Matthews is chaplain for MediaCityUK at Salford Quays and coordinator of The Anchor, the chaplaincy's on site base. The site is associated predominantly with the development of BBC North but The Anchor serves a much wider local 'audience'. Hayley explains:

Everyone always thinks of the BBC when MediaCityUK is talked about but, by the time everything is up and running here, there will be lots of different businesses associated with media and production – people like caterers, set designers, web specialists, costumiers and make-up artists.

There is a lot of interest around the BBC personnel just about to make the move into Salford because some are coming from what was the Manchester base in the city's Oxford Road while others are transferring from London as this area develops into a national, and international, media hub. New businesses are arriving every week. Work is also going on to create a 'new' Coronation St here because ITV is also moving to Salford and the old set will no longer be used.

The Anchor - complexWhen I saw this job description last year I knew it was 'me' but I didn't think there was any way I would get it. I was just coming out of my curacy and was very aware that there were lots of Christian people involved in the media, including many priests, who were very clued up on who's who and how the whole thing worked. I didn't even have a TV but, as soon as I heard I got the job last autumn, I bought one and got Sky installed at my new vicarage!

My office with The Anchor is based in what was an old pie-making factory which now houses full-sized studios. Morning prayer takes place at 9am daily and we celebrate the Eucharist at 12.30pm every Wednesday followed by a time to sit and have lunch.

The Anchor - studiosWhen people begin to move on to the 220-acre site, owned by Peel Holdings, we will also hold some of our worship in the University of Salford building and the multi-faith spaces provided in the BBC areas.

Any new company that moves here has to satisfy a requirement that 40% of their jobs will go to local people. Some of these people will have had three generations of worklessness in their families and MediaCityUK will provide the opportunity for a real change in fortunes. It can be easy to think that the only people working on site will be high-profile broadcasters earning impressive salaries. In fact there will be lots of people on modest incomes.

This is a three year post through Greater Manchester Churches Together with major funding coming from the Diocese of Manchester but, despite its Christian leadership and funding, The Anchor is open to people of all faiths and none. Its role is much 'bigger' than simply serving the BBC buildings and people, important though that is.

The Anchor - insideMy job is very much about creating a sense of community. As part of that we now have a monthly film night at a restaurant in The Quays and I also arrange The Big Business Breakfast, involving the free Big Bacon Buttie, for anyone working on site to meet their neighbours and maybe even swap a couple of business cards first thing in the morning. It's for people on their way into work – otherwise they tend to get immersed in their work and don't come out too much at all.

Outdoors too there is lots of scope with this work. We held a Christmas carol concert on the piazza outside the main studio buildings last year and about 80 people joined in with us on that, even though it was bitterly cold at the time. I'm already planning ahead for this year's event on 15th December when there will be upwards of 2,000 people on site.

The Anchor - plantersBefore then, on June 5, BBC Radio Manchester is making its first live broadcast from MediaCityUK and I will preside while Chris Edmondson, Bishop of Bolton, preaches and a number of other local faith representatives take part. It's all a great opportunity for creating that sense of community by integrating MediaCityUK with the surrounding areas. I have been to all the Deanery churches to preach and preside so they have a contact here because it's all about people feeling that they can come on site to see the regeneration of their own area.

I have also started a community gospel choir so that lots of different people feel they have a foothold in MediaCityUK. The idea of priestly presence is really important in this context so I wear my dog collar wherever I go. Overbury, the developers, even gave me a personalised 'chaplain' hi-vis jacket and hard hat so that I could go on site and be instantly recognisable. I am not there with an agenda or to Bible bash; I am there to support them in whatever impacts on their work.

The Anchor - jacketA turning point for me came when the Archbishops of Canterbury and York both came to bless The Anchor and officially open the bridge which links MediaCityUK with Trafford where the 'new' Coronation St is going up. When I gave my presentation I looked out to see a couple of hundred people there and I had met them all. These are people who really care about Salford and its people and who are working hard to make MediaCityUK meaningful to everyone.

I would very much like to encourage the formation of an ecclesial community here but it's too early as yet. To do anything remotely churchy for the unchurched would be offputting as we are surrounded by churches so people are spoilt for choice as all traditions are catered for. However there is a need for something for those who are perhaps exploring their faith and how it might affect their lives from day to day.

The Anchor - buildingsI'd rather see a catholic, incarnational, charismatic encounter that supports people in developing a rhythm of life that they can take with them into their own routines. This new monastic approach is the direction I'm going in but I'm still at the discerning stage because the commercial outlets aren't open and the people aren't here in any great numbers as yet. It's important for me to have an idea of the ebb and flow of MediaCityUK on a day to day basis.

The sense that I get is that it's not about providing a church on site; instead it's enabling people to be disciples – whether living or working here. There will be a lot of transience at MediaCityUK and some of the people will be based at Salford for just two or three days a week before returning 'home' – wherever that may be. You have to ask, 'Is it going to help them to have a fresh expression here?'

When the people have moved in, maybe the Holy Spirit will say something different; I'm very open to however things may develop!