Readers of my articles in previous years will know that some 90% of the things we could not live without – including food, fuel, medicines, raw materials, clothes and household goods are transported by sea. We have much to thank all Seafarers who do this essential job for, without which our Country would grind to a halt. For much of the time they are out of sight and out of mind, but while the core job itself does not change much the conditions and circumstances can vary considerably. It is a lonely and dangerous job which the World-wide Covid19 pandemic has exacerbated. Perhaps in the long history of the Mission to Seafarers, not even war has had such a sudden, unexpected and profound impact. Sustaining work at the front line has become difficult or impossible. What follows are the word of The Reverend Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary of the Missions:
“The new reality has come at a time of great anxiety for Seafarers. Closure of borders has made it very difficult to transit to and from ships. Many have been unable to leave at the end of their contracts. Those due to join ships have been unable to do so. Shore leave when in port has become difficult. Many Seafarers are very worried about their families back home. All this has had an inevitable impact on the morale of crew. The Mission has been proactive in working with partners to flag up these issues.
It is my hope that the world will sit up and recognise just how vital Seafarers are to their daily lives, applauding them alongside others in this age of quiet heroism. Against a very challenging background they are keeping the supply lines moving, including of food and medical goods. These men and women deserve our profound thanks.
In the middle of all this, there has been great creativity. There is so much lateral thinking at the front line with Chaplains and teams working so hard to maintain some sort of service.
Digital Chaplaincy has also become very Important. Many Chaplains already maintain relationships with their seafarer networks via social media. In addition, we have now created a ‘Chat to a Chaplain’ facility. This enables seafarers to connect instantly to one of the 25 Chaplains on duty round the clock. They can respond with friendship, advice, perhaps even a prayer. This programme has strong ecumenical elements. We are also pioneering new approaches to challenge events, and a more digital approach to ’Sea Sunday’.
These are difficult days, but they are also days for opportunity and exploration, and I do hope you find this short summary stimulating and thought –provoking”Reverend Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary of the Missions
As a Mission agency of the Church of England, the Mission to Seafarers—an International Christian organization entirely funded by voluntary donations –provides vital welfare services to those who risk their lives at sea. Support is provided 365 days a year, every day of the week, and helps ensure that crew in port can quickly contact their families and, when disaster strikes, actively help to get them home safely.
The Mission depends on your valuable contributions to continue its important work, and your support is very much appreciated.
Jim Molloy (Mission to Seafarers representative)
To read more about the Mission to Seafarers click here.