Willy Slavin

Priest, psychologist, writer and hut dweller.

Willy Slavin is retired priest of the Archdiocese of Glasgow, Scotland.  He was ordained in the Scots College, Rome in 1964.

Willy was born in Bristol, England but brought up in Glasgow where he attended St George’s Primary School before going to Blairs College, Aberdeen for secondary education.

After ordination he studied psychology at Glasgow University.  Having qualified as an Educational Psychologist he worked for five years in Bridgeton Child Guidance Clinic on secondment to St Mary’s School, the last Junior Secondary in the city.

Willy spent the next five years in Bangladesh.   He spent the first year learning Bengali and then the next four years at the National Catechetical Centre in Jessore which is across the border from Calcutta.  He wrote up this experience in the privately published: Around Bangladesh.

On returning to Scotland in 1980 he was appointed the first National Secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Scottish Bishops.    In 1986 he became the Coordinator of the newly established Scottish Drugs  Forum, set up by the Scottish Office of the UK Government.  During these ten years he was a Chaplain to Barlinnie Prison, Scotland’s largest jail and lived in a lay community in Ruchill, an inner city housing estate.  He was also latterly Chaplain to Ruchill Hospital for Infectious Diseases.

In 1992 he returned to pastoral work as parish priest in St Alphonsus, the church in ‘The Barras’, Glasgow’s famous street market.   He resumed his psychology career working as a consultant on drug problems to Notre Dame Child Guidance Clinic’s Adolescent Unit, Fern Tower.

In 1998 Willy was made Chaplain to the Yorkhill Hospitals – the Queen Mother’s Maternity and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, becoming in 2001 parish priest of the nearby St Simon’s Church.   He retired from Fern Tower in 2005 and from St Simon’s in 2013.

In 1999 he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study healthy ageing in the USA and Canada.   He has written on Kinship Care for the British Psychological Society and is the film reviewer for Open House magazine.  He was Chair of Emmaus Glasgow, a self sufficient homeless charity from 2002.   Recently he raised funds to install the Homeless Jesus sculpture in Glasgow City Centre.

After giving up playing football aged 40 Willy took to other sports.   He cycled to Cologne for the Make Poverty History demo and biked the Camino Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela before doing Land’s End to John O’Groats and the C2C trail in the North of England.   He has climbed all the Munros including those ‘furth of Scotland’ in England, Wales and Ireland.  He has walked the West Highland and Southern Upland Ways as well as  the Scotland Cross Country Challenge.

He spent his first year of retirement touring the Scottish coastline in a camper van.  Since then he has lived in a hut in a forest in Fife.   On Monday evenings he attends ONEIR, a group of like minded men which has met weekly for the last 20 years.   He is a Partick Thistle season ticket holder.