A new fund has been launched to help ships’ crew members who may need welfare support while visiting the Port of Tyne.  Over 100,000 seafarers arrive at the Port of Tyne each year.  The welfare, conditions and pay of seafarers vary greatly around the world. Some merchant ships can be at sea for nine months or more at any one time, meaning the crew are away from their families for long periods.

The Port of Tyne welfare fund has created an option for shipping lines to pay a voluntary levy each time one of their vessels come into Port. The Port of Tyne then matches the levy, contributing 50p for every £1 collected through the welfare fund. The optional levy is based on a vessel’s Gross Tonnage and ranges from £20 to £30 per ship, payable on the vessel’s first ten visits to the Port each calendar year.

In 2016 around £10,000 was raised by the Port of Tyne welfare fund and will be distributed to projects that support seafarers, via the Merchant Navy Welfare Board - providing funding to the principal welfare organisations that provide services to seafarers visiting the Tyne, including the Mission to Seafarers, Apostleship of the Sea and Fishermen’s Mission – all of which are dependent entirely on charitable donations. The Merchant Navy Welfare Board is now hoping to set up similar schemes in other UK ports.

Andrew Moffat, Port of Tyne Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted that we have been able to work with the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and introduce a scheme that provides practical help and support to the many ships’ crews who come into our port. Targeted specifically for crew members who may need some support in a variety of ways, whether that is a phone call to contact their families, get some welfare advice or provide emergency care, we hope it will help to make a difference.”

Peter Tomlin, Merchant Navy Welfare Board Chief Executive, said: “With ships carrying over 90 per cent of the globe’s raw materials, commodities, and manufactured goods it is really important to the global economy to ensure the welfare of seafarers in ports around the world.

“The scheme introduced by the Port of Tyne will make a tangible difference to local charities in Tyneside that work hard to support seafarers in need.”

The Port of Tyne’s welfare fund will further enable visits to ships, legal support, translation and communication support, counselling, transport and emergency care.