Fulfilling The Mission to Seafarers

Breakbulk Europe to Host Pledge Drive During Event

Breakbulk Europe has chosen The Mission to Seafarers as its charity partner and will have a pledge campaign for the organization during the event May 17-19 at the Rotterdam Ahoy. Breakbulk spoke with Johnny Dowling, senior fundraising manager, about the Mission’s objectives.

Q: Please describe your organization to readers.

The Mission to Seafarers is a charity with operations in more than 200 ports across 50 countries worldwide. Our ship visitors in each of our locations offer all kinds of help and support to merchant seafarers, men and women, who have one of the world’s most dangerous occupations. In light of the pandemic, pressures on the global economy and the war in the Ukraine, there has been a significant increase in mental health issues and practical needs for seafarers, and our trained chaplains provide the essential care and support they need.

Q: What services do you provide?

In addition to ship visits, transport runs, practical care and emotional and spiritual support given by our chaplains, we also provide training through our WeCare program, which has recently been shortlisted for the SAFETY4SEA’s Award.

This exciting new initiative consists of two courses on financial wellbeing and social wellbeing, delivered across workshops, seminars and e-learning, which give support to seafarers and their families during challenging times, helping them learn short-term and long-term coping strategies to maintain wellbeing.

Our WeCare workshops have so far reached more than 6,000 seafarers and their families, and we now have an ambitious target to reach more than 100,000 in 2022 by partnering and growing awareness of the tools available to the industry to protect and support seafarers. Our plans include expanding the program with new resources in digital and print and in various languages including English, Tagalog, Ukrainian and Russian.

Q: How is The Mission to Seafarers able to help seafarers?

We are working with countless seafarers who are suffering from mental and physical problems on account of the work that they do in treacherous conditions far away from friends, family and loved ones. To help, we offer ongoing support with their day-to-day needs, and our chaplains provide practical gifts such as toiletries, care packages, woolly hats, magazines and books and free SIM cards to help them connect with family and friends and help with emergencies. We also offer support through our family support network and our SeaCare program, which is a confidential service to help with seafarers’ mental health and wellbeing and offers help to solve family problems, health concerns and financial issues.

Q: How in turn does The Mission to Seafarers benefit the industry?

Our mission is to care for the shipping industry’s most important asset, its people. Seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs risk their lives every day to aid our global economy, and we hope that our service, support and practical help will help meet their many needs. Our top priority is that seafarers and their families feel 100 percent safe in our care, and that they are confident that our highly skilled port teams bring the help they need.

Q: Are you seeing any impacts on seafarers due to the war in Ukraine?

We share the horror and sadness of so many as we witness events in Ukraine. Our focus is on the many Ukrainian and Russian crews that we encounter in ports all over the world. Our chaplains are all trained in Critical Incident Stress Counseling and crisis intervention, so they have been able to support and comfort those in need. We are also providing free communication to Ukrainian seafarers so they can keep up to date with news and keep in touch with family and loved ones. We have also provided a trauma leaflet in English, Russian and Ukrainian for seafarers and their families.

Q: What are your greatest needs?

Well, we would of course always welcome those who can volunteer, fundraise, donate or partner with us. But if the industry could put forward ideas and creative solutions to ending the ban on shore leave, we know we would see a significant boost and improvement in mental health among seafarers. Shore leave is a key requirement for a key workforce, but the majority of seafarers are not getting the time away from their vessel that they need. We had a crew recently turn up to our Mombasa center who had not had shore leave in two years. Almost all of them burst into tears when they got into the minibus.

For more information on The Mission to Seafarers and to find out how to volunteer, donate or partner visit www.missiontoseafarers.org.

Image credit: Mission to Seafarers