Norfolk chaplains on the workplace frontline
2011: Throughout Norfolk, from King's Lynn to Great Yarmouth, there is a small group of clergy who provide a vital frontline work of supporting people in their working lives in times of need. Kevin Gotts reports.
The largest chaplaincy organization in Norfolk is Good Work (formerly the Norfolk and Waveney Industrial Mission). It is a charitable trust limited by guarantee providing chaplains in various workplaces.
The role of the Good Work chaplains is to give comfort and support to anyone in need of support when they have problems or concerns in their life, whether physical, emotional, financial or related to work, family or other relationships.
The charity currently has three chaplains and operates ecumenically.
Rev Chris Copsey, an Anglican minister. She works full-time for the Trust, providing chaplaincy at County Hall in Norwich, and for the Coroner's Service county wide.
Rev Peter Glanville, a Roman Catholic deacon. He gives part-time support to the Trust. He is part of the team of chaplains at the James Paget Hospital at Gorleston and is chaplain to the sugar beet factory at Cantley. He also supports Angle, a grouping of companies in the Acle area. He acts as deputy to the port chaplain of Great Yarmouth, taking on the role when Peter Paine is absent on holiday or is unavailable for any reason.
Rev Peter Paine
(pictured right), a Baptist minister. He works full-time for the Trust. He is the Port Chaplain for the port of Great Yarmouth
, working to the requirements of the Mission to Seafarers
which oversees the welfare of all sailors visiting the port. He is also chaplain to the Town Hall
in Great Yarmouth
As port chaplain he visits nearly every ship that comes into port and helps the crews, many of whom come from other parts of the world and who have no local connections or support, but who need help to get in touch with their homes. The port chaplaincy offers literally a 24/7 service, where a call from the Coast Guard or hospital could require a visit to a seaman.
Peter, a former RAF Air-Sea Rescue employee, has real empathy with seafarers who may well be away from their homes on voyages lasting up to nine months.
"While modern ships have excellent facilities, the sailors like to relax, use IT or meet up with other crews off shore," he said.
When on board a vessel, Peter explains, "I treat it as their home and will deal with any faith questions. Generally I find seafarers as God loving people, 90% would have a strong faith - all faiths and none."
Peter gets involved with prayer meetings, services and Alpha courses which would continue for participants at other ports, as the Mission to Seaman is a network of chaplains in 240 ports across the world.
He tells of a Polish crew who requested a prayer and praise service on shore, where the uninterested Russian captain chose to stay on board. From this Peter passed a copy of the Y-Jesus DVD (in Russian) via the First Officer to the Captain. Some days later the chaplain in Belfast phoned Peter excitedly to report that the Captain had become a Christian!
Good Work has no income-earning capacity. It survives financially with monies and grants from the Mission to Seafarers and others including churches, Port Authority, businesses and individual gifts. Despite this help it has made a loss in the last few years and its reserves are dwindling fast.
Good Work chairman, and former Norfolk County Council chief executive, Barry Capon appeals, "Anyone wishing to give to the cause, become a ships visitor with training, to pray, or volunteer then please contact Peter Paine.
"The work of the chaplains today is even more important than it has ever been. People are under increasing stress and pressure at work, at home and generally. So often they need an understanding, a listening ear, someone independent, unbiased, uncritical to whom they can talk completely confidentially," said Barry.
Above, Rev Peter Paine, Port Chaplain in Great Yarmouth.