The Mission to Seafarers Global Champions Unite – a message from the Secretary General
Dear Mr Michael,
Helping seafarers in your spare time!
I write in follow-up to the important email sent by one of my colleagues. I am deeply conscious that the situation around seafarers is changing all the time. Most of you are aware of the enormous challenges that they are facing in these virus-driven times.
The Mission recognizes the huge amount of work the industry is doing in lobbying governments and organisations to protect seafarers as key workers, facilitate border opening to ease crew transiting and give proper attention to crew welfare. The Mission is pleased to be working alongside a range of partners in flagging up these issues right across the world. There is a tremendous sense of common purpose as maritime organisations unite to drive forward key issues in support of seafarers. At the Mission we are especially grateful to organisations like the ITF Seafarers Trust, the TK Foundation and Seafarers UK who have stepped up with significant emergency funding in support of our work and that of our colleague societies.
Covid-19 has created extraordinary difficulties for seafarers. Transit issues have necessitated extended contracts for many, while others are unable to start contracts, bringing potential financial hardship. Accessing normal welfare, medical and even shopping facilities when in port has become very difficult, often meaning enhanced difficulty in communicating with home. All this at a time when there is so much worry about families far away, with resulting implications on levels of stress, anxiety, and mental health well-being.
This is an age of heroes and heroines. We are rightly and gratefully applauding health workers across the world. Seafarers, however, are amongst many others who must be applauded. Working against a background of intense difficulty, they are sustaining supply lines, including of food and medical equipment, on which we all depend. Rarely has the prospect of empty shelves been so real and so frightening. In support of these heroic men and women The Mission to Seafarers is seeking to sustain effective work in our ports as far as that is possible, sometimes in almost impossible circumstances. We are also developing new ways to interact with seafarers, particularly through social media. We have launched this week a new digital programme. “Chat to a Chaplain” will make 25 chaplains available 24 hours a day to support seafarers with friendship, advice and support.
Global Champions Unite is a programme enabling you to help us help them. Our regular events programme has had to be cancelled for a few months. In launching this alternative, we are very conscious that we are not alone in encouraging personally motivated events in homes, gardens and parks. In the UK we are delighted that 99-year-old “Captain Tom” has raised over £28 million for the NHS by doing 100 circuits of his garden with his walking frame. Amazing! We are also conscious of the pressures on so many charities. However, we offer this as one way in which you might choose to mark the heroism of seafarers and to contribute actively to their support. Already a good few have signed up. We hope you might join them.