Liverpool Seafarers Centre (LSC) has called on ‘people of all denominations’ to remember seafarers in their prayers on Sea Sunday, which falls on 12 July. The ecumenical charity said it was more vital than ever to support those working on ships, with many left stranded on board during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many seafarers are facing extended contracts, a lack of shore leave and the inability to speak to loved ones because of poor quality, non-existent or expensive wi-fi and internet.
LSC, which has bases in Crosby and Eastham, reported in May the urgent plight of seafarers from India and the Philippines who felt ‘like prisoners’ aboard ship as they were unable to return home owing to flight bans. The next month, the shipping industry warned that travel restrictions had left up to 400,000 crew stranded either at sea or at home.
According to LSC chief executive John Wilson, seafarers have been working hard to deliver protective equipment and medication, as well as the food and other essential supplies needed to keep supermarket shelves stocked. He added: ‘During normal times, the men and women aboard these ships often work long hours in dangerous conditions to carry out their roles. In the current situation, many of these are working with limited shore leave due to quarantine restrictions, leaving them with extended period on board their vessels. Others are stuck at home unable to earn money for their families because crew changes are infrequent during lockdown.’
He has visited ships during the pandemic to deliver donations from the public, including toiletries, confectionery, puzzles and games, fresh fruit, and recently released CDs and DVDs. Wilson added: “Seafarers are at increased risk of suffering from mental health problems anyway, through long periods away from home, isolation and cramped living conditions. The pressure on their mental health from the Covid-19 crisis is huge and this exacerbates the risk of accident.’
For further information, visit www.liverpoolseafarerscentre.org.