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Seafarer welfare call ahead of World Maritime Day

Photo: Stella Maris/Flickr stellamarisvitisit.jpg
Julian Wong, Stella Maris Regional Port Chaplain for Felixstowe, Harwich, Ipswich, King’s Lynn, Lowestoft & Mistley Julian Wong ship visiting at Ipswich port.
With IMO’s World Maritime Day on 30 September themed “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future" welfare organisations are highlighting the role ship’s crew have played keeping the world economy moving during the pandemic and the challenges they continue to face.

Seafarers have been in many cases been separated from families for over a year, and in some cases simply left unpaid and abandoned far from home.

“This year’s theme is an excellent reminder that seafarers really are at the heart of world trade and are frontline heroes. Despite the growth in digital welfare provision made necessary by the pandemic, the issues faced by seafarers still persist - abandonment, crew change difficulties, lack of shore leave, non-payment of wages and piracy,” Stella Maris Chief Executive Martin Foley said.

ITF Seafarers’ Trust called on seafarers voices to be heard and their sacrifices to be recognised by governments.

The Trust’s chair, Dave Heindel said: “To say that seafarers have kept the global economy moving during Covid is no exaggeration. Without them carrying on, through loneliness, home sickness, illness and uncertainty, the global supply chain would have ground to a total halt. What the Trust wants to see now is governments recognising that and living up to their responsibilities to seafarers through recognition of key worker status, access to vaccines and facilitated crew change with the appropriate legislative support.”

Stella Maris stressed the importance of face-to-face contact through ship visits and onshore pastoral care, something which has been difficult, if not impossible, in many countries and ports over the last 18 months.

“In our experience nothing can replace the face-to-face friendship and care provided by our chaplains and ship visitors. Because of this, seafarers know us, trust us and look for us in ports,” Foley said.

The charity’s work over World Maritime Day in the UK and across the world is being sponsored by world is being sponsored by Britannia P&I Club.

Stella Maris’ global network of chaplains and ship visitors have made thousands of routine visits to vessels, talking to tens of thousands of seafarers and providing them with mobile WiFi units, phone SIM cards, clothing, food and toiletries.

“Britannia is delighted to continue to support the vital work of Stella Maris to help seafarers in ports around the world. The past year or so has been especially challenging for seafarers and the support provided by charities like Stella Maris is more important than ever to support the welfare and wellbeing of crew,” Ella Hagell, Claims Director, Britannia P&I.

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