Liverpool Seafarers Centre, which provides a lifeline to sailors in the port, has closed its Crosby and Eastham centres to visitors but says people can still leave goods in the porch. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool Seafarers Centre (LSC) says it will increase its ship visits to vessel-bound seafarers after temporarily closing its centres in Crosby and Eastham to crew and visitors following Government advice amid the coronavirus crisis.
LSC chief executive John Wilson said the move follows the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advice that cafes, pubs and restaurants must close from Friday night, except for take-away food, to tackle COVID-19.
Mr Wilson said LSC’s team of outreach workers will seek to increase their critical ship visits to provide a lifeline to seafarers who now cannot leave their ships. Over the weekend of March 21, he presented the crew of MV Beteugue with a ‘light of the world’ prayer candle during their visit to Liverpool deliver grain.
“LSC’s work is now more important than ever for seafarers,” he said. “We will be providing practical support, such as undertaking shopping, on our ship visits and also offering important pastoral care monitoring their mental health and helping them with personal matters.
“Seafarers are critical to our country’s ability to survive the crisis and must not be forgotten. We rely on them for 95% of everything we import and export including our food and medicines. Seafarers are in very uncertain times and many are unclear how and when they will be able to return home. In the meantime, they must keep working far from family and loved ones.”
Mr Wilson appealed to donate toiletries, confectionary, puzzles and games, warm clothing, fresh fruit, CDs and recently released DVDs. He said donated goods can be left in the porch of LSC’s Crosby headquarters and the LSC team will then take them to ships direct.
Dry bulk shipowners association Intercargo this week highlighted the challenges presented in the repatriation of seafarers who have completed their sea service and want to return home to their families
“Though their colleague seafarers are standing by on shore in their home country, the relief process is stalled as many port states have imposed local regulations, travel and quarantine restrictions due to COVID-19, despite the IMO circulars to be mindful of free access to seafarers. In many cases neither the seafarers nor the companies know for how long these may prevail,” Intercargo stated.
LSC, which won the Positive Impact Award at the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards 2020 this month helps 50,000 seafarers each year visiting Merseyside ports. It is a partnership between Apostleship of the Sea (Liverpool) and The Mersey Mission to Seafarers.