Communities across Merseyside are being urged to show their support for seafarers as they continue to face growing ‘storms’ around the globe, including the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing Covid pandemic.
The call from Liverpool Seafarers Centre (LSC) comes ahead of a key date in the religious calendar. On July 10 churches around the world will celebrate Sea Sunday, an annual day where congregations recognise the role seafarers play in our daily lives and raise funds for the missions supporting them.
Sea Sunday is a time to remember seafarers in prayer, give thanks for the crucial work they do and support them through charitable donations. The theme this year is: ‘Calming the storm at home, in port, and at sea.’
LSC chief executive John Wilson says that it is more important than ever to remember the challenges facing seafarers and their families, and the vital role they play.
He urged people to use Sea Sunday to reflect on the work of seafarers and to give generously to organisations that are supporting them and for churchgoers of all denominations to offer prayers for them.
In its appeal, the ecumenical charity said it was vital, now more than ever, to support those working on ships, as they faced a wide range of challenges caused by conflict, disease and the natural environment.
LSC’s centres are continuing to see Ukrainian seafarers impacted by events in their native country on a daily basis and the charity is helping many to apply to via UK Border Force to move home to Britain.
Mr Wilson said, “It remains a desperately sad situation. Some have lost their homes; their families have fled Ukraine and they cannot go home.
“Things may look bleak for them at the moment, but we are here for them and we are trying to listen and help them as much as we can.”
The ongoing pandemic also continues to impact the world’s 1.89 million seafarers, who are still suffering from Covid restrictions as they go about their vital work.
He said, “Those restrictions can be really strict. We are seeing shipping lines stopping shore leave for crews.
“Perhaps a single crew member hasn’t been fully vaccinated and if that is the case none of the crew are allowed ashore. The effect is harsh on crews, who benefit hugely from time ashore of the vessel.
“The challenge of being away from home in a small space at sea with the same small group of people is hard. And it is a particularly gruelling working regime for seafarers working on short sea feeder vessel journeys where opportunities for breaks even on board are limited.”
He added, “There is no doubt that the world’s seafarers have faced unimaginable struggle since the start of the pandemic, and today it continues to take its toll on people’s mental health.
“Against this background, and all the challenges our seafarers must face, we believe that marking Sea Sunday is more important than ever. It is a Christian tradition where churches come together and offer their prayers for seafarers.
“Historically, they would have a collection to support the work done by chaplaincies and charities here in the UK but also throughout the world. Today we must do what we can to remember the incredibly tough job that these people do to benefit us all.”
Mr Wilson also renewed his appeal for donations of fresh food and quality clothes for its centres in Crosby and Eastham, which play an important role in supporting seafarers.
LSC, which has roots dating back to the 19th Century, supports around 50,000 seafarers passing through Liverpool’s ports each year, offering a safe and secure place to rest as well as practical and emotional support.
He adds: “Chaplaincies such as ours also provide that listening ear, just someone these people can have a conversation with.”
You can donate to the Liverpool Seafarers Centre at www.paypal.com/paypalme/liverpoolseafarers
Image: John Wilson, CEO Liverpool Seafarers Centre