Canon Chris Beales has worked as a parish priest and social entrepreneur over 4 decades. After training in Cranmer Hall, he served as a curate and industrial chaplain in Leeds and then as an industrial chaplain in Teesside, where set up the Hartlepool Co-operative Enterprise Centre in 1982 and Teesside’s Respond! programme in 1984, addressing unemployment and deindustrialisation. From 1985-91 he worked at Church House Westminster with the industrial and economic affairs brief. During this time, in response to Faith in the City, he set up a national programme, Linking Up Inter-Faith, to address urban poverty, unemployment and economic regeneration.
This work led to Chris’ secondment, from 1992 to 1994, to the British Government to set up the Inner Cities Religious Council, with Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh membership. He then moved north to become the first Director of the Churches’ Regional Commission in the North East, returning to London in 1998 to start a business and develop a charity, Employment Forum (UK), with two main programmes, a Black Economic Empowerment Programme (working with black majority churches) and an Inter-Faith Action Programme. Working with Afghan refugees led to the creation of Afghan Action which, in 2005, opened a training and business incubation centre in Kabul, Afghanistan. Chris was Chief Executive from 2005-15, during which time over 1100 young Afghan men and women were educated and trained in carpet weaving and tailoring (www.afghanaction.org).
Chris is a founder Board member of the London Design & Engineering University Technical College, which opened in Docklands in September 2016. (www.ldeutc.co.uk). He represents the Diocese of Chelmsford. Other founder members are the University of East London, Thames Water, Costain and Skanska.
Chris was half time parish priest of St Michael Woburn Sands from 2008-16, during which time the congregation grew substantially (www.stmichaelsws.org.uk) and a community initiative, Love Woburn Sands, was formed and works closely with local schools, older people and other groups. (www.lovewoburnsands.co.uk).
Chris works as a consultant in economic development with faith communities, businesses, Government national and local, and others. He is a non-Executive Director of his son’s Singapore-based company, Energise Futures, providing consultancy and technical and commercial training in the energy sector (www.energisefutures.com).
Chris is married to Angela and they live in Hartlepool. They have three grown up children and five grandchildren.