Faith and Seafarers’ Welfare

2nd August 2021
The Mission to Seafarers calls for further government involvement in improving seafarer welfare

 The Mission to Seafarers has been involved in the recent University of Cardiff Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC) port chaplain study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The study investigated the faiths and welfare of seafarers on board two cargo vessels carrying multinational crews. 

 The Mission’s chaplains, staff and volunteers were interviewed at different stages of the research as part of the University’s field work. In addition, one chaplain was shadowed by a researcher for approximately three months to enable the university to gain an understanding about the spiritual and practical support given to seafarers.  

 The research project has provided the Mission with a contemporary understanding of the needs of seafarers which will be used to benchmark and develop our existing welfare support such as the changing expression of religion in globalised workplaces. 

 The evidence from the research demonstrates how vital our work is for seafarer wellbeing. It is clear that there is substantial trust between chaplains and seafarers, and seafarers place significant value on seafarer centres, chaplains and the services The Mission provides.  

 Revd Ijeoma Ajibade, Regional Director Europe, The Mission to Seafarers, commented on the findings: “There is no doubt that the research shows that the organisations involved in providing maritime welfare face challenges of fundraising and sustainability. The onus of fundraising has largely been left to the voluntary sector, with many chaplains having to focus on fundraising instead of being able to provide welfare. This is clearly unsustainable and inefficient. Partnership and collaboration is vital between the voluntary sector and across government and industry to make a difference to seafarer welfare and provide continuous improvements.” 

 For example, seafarers’ and fishers’ welfare has been boosted following the signing of a formal agreement between the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (Govt) and the Merchant Navy Welfare Board of which The Mission is a constituent member. The agreement outlines the specific responsibilities of the two organisations, as well as committing to sharing information about matters affecting seafarers’ and fishers’ welfare, seeking advice and consulting on other issues. This agreement is a perfect example of stakeholders coming together. 

 To watch a film describing some of the findings from an ESRC funded project ‘Religion in multi-ethnic contexts: a multidisciplinary case study of global seafaring’, visit here.

 Find more information on the work of The Mission to Seafarers here.

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