The Mission to Seafarers is one of charities which the people of St Molua’s have been supporting for many years (see our Charity and Community page for details of others). Rev Colin Hall-Thompson, Senior Chaplain of the Mission in Northern Ireland, has recently provided the following update on their work:
Dear Friends & Supporters,
Thank you for your continued prayer and support during this time of pandemic. Perhaps we are gradually emerging from it.
I am delighted to report that the Belfast Centre has reopened to seafarers:
Mornings (1000hrs -1300hrs) and
Evenings (1900hrs – 2200hrs).
Our Warrenpoint Centre volunteers continue to support seafarers throughout the pandemic – thank you all for your hard work and compassion.
Ship visiting continues. Sadly, due to many shipping company policies, or captain’s decisions, most seafarers are still not allowed ashore. Nevertheless it is worth welcoming even a small number of them, especially important for their mental health, to let them chill out. Wi-fi is still in big demand and sales of data cards continue so that seafarers can contact their families which is particularly important at this time.
I have been distressed to come across some members of a crew who are suffering ‘extended contracts’ (manipulated to stay beyond their arranged contract). I had hoped that this problem had been eliminated here in the West. Repatriation continues to be possible from Northern Ireland. The good news is that seafarers are beginning to be able to access vaccinations, either in their own countries or in USA ports. Not before time!
Thankfully crews are able to hub after protocol checks prior to boarding, but these frontline workers, who keep global trade going and moving from port to port with all the vulnerability that entails, deserve to be vaccinated urgently. Mental welfare is critical too – seafaring is even more difficult around the region of the Middle East and Asia.
I take this opportunity to say a big thanks to our local shipping agents who contribute greatly to our ability to sustain our welcome and ministry by collecting voluntary levies from shipping companies (and of course the companies themselves!) and/or contribute to our fundraising efforts. This is a very important contribution to our income, not to mention their help with passing on information to seafarers about us and information to seafarers requiring our services. Thank you for the support from Shipping Agents and the wider stevedoring and port community.
Friday 12th June was the annual International Seafarers Day. It’s a time to reflect on how important seafarers are to the shipping industry and global trade, and the dangers they face. Still over 90% of world trade travels by sea!
Sunday 11th July was officially Sea Sunday in the Anglican communion, although it can be held any Sunday suiting a parish / worshipping community. I am happy to help worship leaders put a service together and participate. Mission to Seafarers globally particularly values congregational prayer and promotion of our ministry to this extremely important sector of society.
July 11th – 15th July sees Relate NI, a well-known agency for the promotion of good relations, set aside particular time to help seafarers with their relationships whether aboard or at home. We are very grateful to Relate NI for their campaign centred on Seafarers and their families.
Seafaring is a tough, tough life, absent from your family, community and culture for long periods, made especially difficult and risky in these Covid times by worry about family, lack of vaccination, unwanted ‘extended contracts’, difficulty with repatriation at times, unable to go ashore, abandoned on ships by exploitive or bankrupt owners. However, I never cease to be amazed how resilient, even though tired and anxious, seafarers are. It is a privilege to minister to them in God’s name, and I hope for you to pray and support them.
Rev Colin Hall-Thompson
Mission to Seafarers,
Princes Dock Street,
The Mission to Seafarers supports the world’s 1.5m merchant seafarers in over 260 ports worldwide. To find out more, visit www.missiontoseafarers.org
We are The Mission to Seafarers, N.I. Branch. Connecting, Listening, Advocating & Caring for all Seafarers across the Ports of Northern Ireland.
Copyright © 2021 The Mission to Seafarers N.I. Branch. All rights reserved.