The Mission to Seafarers in 2050
I was recently asked to write a magazine piece to try to predict the work of The Mission to Seafarers in 2050, alongside others involved in shipping trying to guess where we would all be in 40 years time.
Prediction is dangerous, even in this age where the idea of drone ships doesn’t seem very far-fetched, but I gave it a shot.
Like any charity, it is our ultimate hope that the need for our intervention ceases to exist and that seafarers are so well looked after that our services aren’t needed. We are in the business of doing ourselves out of business!
To continue to improve, we must be in the right places with the right resource. Seafarers will always be our focus and our work must reflect their need, so our very practical work will need constant review.
As the pace of modernisation grows, the boundaries of information technology expand. In 2050, it’s likely that systems like laptops and desktop computers in centres will be unnecessary and whatever WiFi will be in 2050 will most likely be all around us. However, we hope to be in the forefront of exploring “online” chaplaincy and supporting seafarers that way, wherever they may be.
Our centres will most likely be very different too, as needs change and we’re working on rising to that challenge even now.
While some traditional areas of support may diminish others will remain constant. Ship manning sizes will continue to decline as automation grows. However, while crew remain, so will emotional, pastoral and spiritual need. There will still be isolation, accident, sickness, family crisis. And always, even in the world of the Maritime Labour Convention, there are likely to be dark and hidden corners within elements of the shipping world that demand a very special kind of friendship and advocacy. We will be there.
The Flying Angel flag will still fly in ports around the world. Our models of operation and the nature of our teams will be diverse (and might surprise if we could see them now!) - and the Flying Angel may well look a little different (although not too much).
We will be in many new ports. There may be more shipboard chaplaincy, perhaps embedded within crew, especially as the cruise market develops. There will be more dependence on volunteers. We may well have expanded substantially into new areas of seafaring work, fishing amongst them perhaps. There will be more work with seafaring families and a greater focus on special projects such as healthcare and medical advice.
One final constant, however, will be the need for profound partnership with the shipping industry. Long may that be sustained to the benefit of crew everywhere. We will continue to work with others to beat the drum for seafarers and to hope that the world, which depends on them for so much, comes to know and value their work - as it perhaps did to a greater extent 40 years ago!