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Port’s chaplain faced with axe unless funds can be found 

19th February 2016
Liz Coates

 PC PLUG 2016

Rev Peter Paine, Great Yarmouth port chaplain. EDP Original feature. Picture: James Bass

Funding is poised to be axed for Great Yarmouth’s dedicated port chaplain casting a question mark over his caring ministry in the town

Rev Peter Paine has been hit by cutbacks being made by the Mission to Seafarers who are paying his salary until the end of the year when their contribution will end after 15 years

With a floating congregation of up to 10,000 seafarers and cadets, he said pulling the plug would affect the service given to sailors who come to the town needing help, support and sometimes just a listening ear

The move, he added, had come just as his workload looked set to increase with new owners at the helm of the outer harbour

However, he remained upbeat about the future and hoped to be able to stay on in his role on at least a part-time basis with local business support

Although reliant on a handful of large companies for handouts he hoped an array of smaller businesses could be persuaded to pay out £250 a year for three years ensuring he stays in the town, helping workers on land as well as those at sea often enduring long periods away from home

In a town steeped in maritime heritage he said it seemed fitting that someone like him was on hand to help visitors who may have problems that cannot be solved on board their ships

“It is down to the fact of the economics of world trade” he said. “And the fact the Mission is now only in 200 ports worldwide in about 50 countries, and that has come down tremendously. Like every other organisation they just have a black hole to fill

“What it means for the Seafarers Centre which is now up and running and gaining in popularity is that it will only have a part time chaplain. My basic role is that seafarers are mentally and physically ok, spirituality comes into it but it’s not first and foremost. I am there as their intermediate person for any problems that come up. I go on ships and try to sort things out or get someone else in who can”

He said that what he would most miss was being part of the Mission “family” as well as the training opportunities and the vehicle they provided

“I do not see it as an impossible situation,” he added. “There are only two or three companies in the port that support the work that I do. At a rough guess there are 150 companies in the town that have links with the port and I really need to appeal to them.  If a company from 2017 would enter into a deal for three years at £250 a year and just half of them did it there would not be a problem"

“If I went there would be no-one looking after the seafarers and nowhere for them to go”

Mr Paine is also town hall chaplain and tourism chaplain with responsibility for around 60 seafarers units

He was instrumental in bringing a Seafarers Centre back to the town after a break of nine years

Ben Bailey, project manager, The Mission to Seafarers, said: “Over many years the Rev Peter Paine has provided comfort and support to seafarers using the Port of Great Yarmouth.  We hope that alternative sources of funding will be found and we encourage the local maritime community to get behind him to continue this good work”

A refurbished unit in a new location on South Quay was officially opened in April last year providing a land-based hub for sailors to freshen up and contact their families

To find out more contact Rev Paine on 07788 111823

reproduced from the Yarmouth Mercury website and used with permission