A PRIEST who is training to become a lifeboatman has written a prayer in response to the backlash against crews rescuing migrants in the Channel.
The Revd Mark Broadway began training with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution last winter, soon after he arrived for his second curacy as Assistant Curate of Newton Nottage, in the South Wales seaside resort of Porthcawl. When he read reports that RNLI volunteers had been abused as they landed refugees rescued from the sea off Kent, he felt moved to write the prayer asking God to support people fleeing from terror and those who bring them to safety.
“I want to do what I can do,” he said. “I am doing that by volunteering my time, and I felt that I had something else to offer through my ministry. Knowing the vital work that they perform around the country, giving their time as volunteers, I was keen to show my support.
“Getting to know the crew, their dedication to the task, and their compassion for those in distress, has been inspirational. Seeing their lifesaving work attacked is heartbreaking. I encourage all churches to pray for refugees and RNLI volunteers.” His words have already been used in one church in his diocese of Llandaff.
Mr Broadway has joined several training drills at sea, including dealing with a capsized lifeboat, but has yet to go out on a real rescue. “The training is quite strict and lengthy,” he said. “It will take me about six months to qualify, but I could get called out sooner if other more experienced crew are not available — and, if there is something quite minor, I might go out to support the crew.
“I am a complete beginner, I have no previous experience of boats, but I try to keep fit as part of my personal discipline with running, the gym, and swimming. Being a seaside parish, I took to sea-swimming almost as soon as I arrived. I got myself an all-weather wetsuit and just got in. I wanted to engage with the spirit of camaraderie in the crew, and I have found that a real benefit. The fact that they do this inspirational work is such a bonus. My parish duties take priority, but the Rector [Canon Philip Masson] has been brilliant, allowing me to go to training sessions whenever possible.”
The Mission to Seafarers has called for more government support in improving the welfare of seafarers. It follows a study of the work of port chaplains by the University of Cardiff Seafarers International Research Centre, which investigated the faiths and welfare of seafarers on two cargo vessels carrying multinational crews. The Mission’s chaplains, staff, and volunteers were interviewed by researchers, and one chaplain was shadowed for three months.
The Mission’s regional director for Europe, the Revd Ijeoma Ajibade, said: “There is no doubt that the research shows that the organisations involved in providing maritime welfare face challenges of fund-raising and sustainability.
“The onus of fund-raising has largely been left to the voluntary sector, with many chaplains having to focus on fund-raising instead of being able to provide welfare. This is clearly unsustainable and inefficient. Partnership and collaboration is vital between the voluntary sector and across government and industry to make a difference to seafarer welfare and provide continuous improvements.”