23 Jun


Day of the Seafarer

23 Jun, 2017

Seafarers Matter. The theme for this year’s Day of the Seafarer on Sunday (June 25) could not be more apt.

An annual celebration, it gives the shipping industry the chance to recognise and promote the unique contribution our seafarers make to world trade and civil society.

At Sailor’s Society, we’re passionate about telling people that seafarers matter. While they bring us 90 per cent of everything we own and use, the reality is that seafarers are often overlooked – an invisible workforce.

And although seafaring is more often than not a rewarding and fulfilling career, it’s not without daily challenges: violent storms, extreme loneliness and isolation, the threat of piracy and even hijacking by terrorists.

With contracts lasting up to a year at a time, seafarers are far from loved ones and not able to access the everyday services that others take for granted.

Working in 91 ports in 27 countries across the world, Sailors’ Society chaplains help seafarers and their families, of all faiths and none, with welfare and practical support.

Dave Anderson

Our chaplain Drew Anderson, who manages Invergordon Seafarers’ Centre, is very familiar with the dangers that a life at sea can bring. He and his volunteer ship visitors recently supported a Filipino crew traumatised by the death of a fellow crew member, fatally injured by an accident in port.

Drew spent time with the crew, listening and talking with them, and held a service in memory of the seafarer. He was also able to contact his fellow port chaplain in the Philippines, who visited the seafarer’s widow and children, offering counselling and financial support through such a difficult time.

Life at sea can be very isolating. Fatigue, poor mental health and stress can affect seafarers on a daily basis and be the difference between safe transit and a major incident. Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea coaching programme and free app aims to combat some of these issues and help seafarers cope with life at sea.

No less challenging are the limitations of communication while at sea. With limited internet and long spells away, contact with home can be infrequent, and the phone cards and free internet our chaplains can provide are ever popular.

The difficulties of being away from home were evident in the case of seafarer Rodel, whose family home was destroyed by fire earlier this year. Away at sea, Rodel was helpless.

Fortunately, Sailors’ Society chaplain Jasper del Rosario was able to support Rodel’s family.

“It’s very hard for a seafarer like me to have such an incident happen to my family while I’m not around,” Rodel told us on Facebook.

“Thank you Sailors’ Society for being there when my family is in need.”

Our chaplains are delighted to be taking part in Day of the Seafarer celebrations around the world to shine a light on these, and other stories.

As part of this year’s celebrations, ports and seafarers’ centres around the world are sharing with visiting crew and local communities just how much seafarers matter.

Odessa Seaman’s club, with whom Sailors’ Society works closely, will be giving gifts to visiting crewmen and offering a free city excursion.

The Seafarers’ Home in Kandla, India will be offering their usual warm welcome and free sight and hearing tests, funded by Sailors’ Society.

Invergordon Seafarers’ Centre and port of Cromarty Firth, Scotland are offering tours to locals to give a flavour of the services provided to visiting crews, and to help them learn more about the contribution seafarers make. These are just a few of many activities going on around the world to mark this special day.

We hope that through these events, we are able to show that seafarers really do matter – not just on one day of the year we choose to globally celebrate, but each and every day.

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