Proud to serve seafarers
Time and time again seafarers arrive in port and ask “where is the Flying Angel?”
We are proud of that, and the support given to seafarers and their families all over the world by chaplains and their teams has changed countless lives for the better – sometimes in very dramatic circumstances, involving injuries, abandonments, pirate attacks and even fatalities. However, very often we also work in quiet, undramatic ways which can be equally transformative – ship visiting, hospitality in ports, communications facilities: all of these gestures make a difference and we are proud of what has been and continues to be done.
However, there is no room for standing still. Any organisation that “stays the same” and doesn’t actively improve gets worse (you only need to look at Manchester United last season for proof!)
Our work is set in the midst of a fast-changing industry in a fast-changing world. Ships get bigger. Crews get smaller. Automation increases. Time for shore leave decreases. Some ports grow, while other traditional routes shrink. New routes are opening up, especially in the Arctic – perhaps one day there’ll be a Mission on the North Pole! We also hope to offer new projects in the near future, working on mental health issues and family support. Seafarers also have new ways of engaging with us, for example requesting support through Facebook, following us on Instagram, or talking to us on Twitter.
While much has changed, some aspects of sea life stay the same. Recently the BBC asked me whether seafaring was a dangerous way of life, following the deaths of three seafarers in the UK. It is. Working on a ship, surrounded by machinery, in rough seas, with dangerous cargoes is inherently risky. Much has been done to improve health, safety and training, but the risk can never be completely eliminated. Add on to this the pressure of long contracts, isolation and separation from families, as well as piracy and abandonment, and the sea can be a very dangerous place indeed for some seafarers.
Despite these changes, we are rooted in our core values, and our absolute commitment to seafarers in need, of all nations, ranks and faiths. These are exciting times. For seafarers, we hope to be a rock, faithful to our core purposes of serving you and your families, and also a river, flowing onward into a future where development and improvement must happen.