Liverpool Seafarers Centre shines light on seafarers’ challenges in BBC podcasts

Liverpool Seafarers Centre, a prominent charity organisation dedicated to supporting seafarers, has recently been featured in two thought-provoking BBC Podcasts.

The podcasts, titled “The Food Chain, Hungry at Sea” and “Corruption in Port,” shed light on the realities of life on board merchant vessels and the challenges faced by seafarers.

The insightful podcasts provide an in-depth look into the maritime industry and the difficult situations that seafarers find themselves in, often through no fault of their own. These experiences can have detrimental effects on the individuals involved.

John Wilson, the Chief Executive of Liverpool Seafarers Centre, revealed that the organisation was approached several months ago by a BBC Producer who wanted to explore the lives of seafarers. Always up for a challenge, the centre agreed to participate. It soon became clear that the focus of the program was on crew welfare, particularly regarding food and the conditions on modern merchant vessels.

The BBC Producers wanted to witness firsthand the work carried out by Liverpool Seafarers Centre and the support they provide to seafarers on a daily basis.

During their visit, they had the opportunity to interview John Wilson, Chief Executive, and Kinga Davies, Deputy Manager of the centre.

They also spoke with seafarers who were visiting the centre at the time. Additionally, the producers took a tour of the bustling port of Liverpool to gain a better understanding of the maritime industry.

Liverpool Seafarers Centre provided first-hand insights into the challenges of crew welfare, particularly regarding food. Some of the information shared was hearsay and not witnessed in North European ports. 

The BBC produced a second podcast titled “Corruption at Port.” Although this topic may not be highly relevant to North European ports, it is a harsh reality in other parts of the world.

Some port organisations in various regions demand ransoms and make requests for food, cigarettes and or cash from the ship’s safe. Failure to comply can result in vessel delays, leading to significant consequences for the captain, charterer, and ship owner.

These delays can incur costly financial losses and damage the reputation of all parties involved. Consequently, crew members often feel anxious when informed that their vessel may pass through war-torn areas or visit ports known for corruption.

John Wilson said, “We have encountered ships in port that face genuine food shortages due to corruption that takes place in other ports often targeting their food supplies.

“Fortunately, thanks to the generous contributions from our local community in Liverpool and beyond, our Ship Welfare visitors are able to get onboard and provide food parcels to ensure that the crew receives the sustenance they require. Additionally, small acts of kindness, like offering a simple chocolate bar, can have a profound impact on lifting someone’s spirits.”

In expressing his gratitude, John Wilson, Chief Executive of Liverpool Seafarers Centre went on to thank the BBC World Service for producing the two podcasts. He emphasised the importance of raising awareness and giving a voice to the seafarers who navigate the world’s oceans, carrying 90% of global trade and 95% of UK trade. 

John said, “Seafarers are the real unsung heroes of the maritime industry.  Their tireless efforts ensure that the world’s hunger for the latest gadgets, essential goods, and food supplies is satisfied. We’d like to thank the BBC World Service for bringing attention to the vital role played by seafarers and the challenges they face.” 

Listen to the BBC Podcasts featuring John Wilson and Kinga Davies of the Liverpool Seafarers Centre:

BBC Podcast: Hungry at Sea – https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct5xml

BBC Podcast: Corruption at Port – https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct5zbq

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