Volunteering to Create Lasting Change for Seafarers Welfare

2nd June 2023
Volunteering has always been the backbone of The Mission to Seafarers, a leading welfare charity dedicated to supporting seafarers.

Across the globe, over 1.89 million seafarers face danger every day to keep our global economy afloat while enduring the challenges of loneliness, mental health issues, and limited access to essential resources while far away from their families and loved ones. These essential key workers, responsible for transporting over 90% of the world’s goods and fuels, often go unrecognised by the general population. This is where volunteering steps in, making a remarkable impact on their lives.

The Mission to Seafarers recognise the vital role of volunteers in its mission to care for seafarers. Whether it’s reaching seafarers in Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, or in any of the 200 ports across 50 countries where we operate, volunteers are the beating heart of what we do. They bring the spirit of compassion, support, and community to seafarers who face numerous challenges at sea.

Volunteering takes many forms, from ship visiting to driving and assisting in Seafarers Centres. Ship Visitors board commercial vessels in ports, offering much-needed help and support to individual seafarers and crews. They provide a listening ear, offer practical assistance, and alleviate the isolation and separation from loved ones that seafarers often experience. Volunteer Drivers play a crucial role by providing transportation to seafarers who come ashore in isolated ports, ensuring they can access our Seafarers Centres and local amenities. In Seafarers Centres, volunteers create welcoming and relaxing environments, serving refreshments, helping seafarers connect with their families through internet access, and being a compassionate presence.

But why is volunteering so important? It goes beyond the immediate impact on seafarers’ lives. Volunteering offers a fresh perspective and transformative experiences for those involved. Take Guy Campbell, a retired shipping executive, who found a new dimension to his career by volunteering with The Mission to Seafarers. As an independent trustee and Chair of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, Guy was already passionate about crew welfare. However, his volunteer work deepened his understanding of the enormous challenges faced by seafarers and their importance to the shipping industry. Through his ship visits and interactions with crews, he provided practical support, shared information about the Mission’s services, and offered companionship to seafarers. Volunteering allowed him to give back to an industry that had served him well while also gaining a fresh perspective and fulfilment.

Volunteering doesn’t just benefit seafarers; it can also have a profound impact on volunteers themselves. It offers an opportunity to make a difference, learn new skills, take on challenges, and become part of a vibrant community. By serving as a volunteer, you can bring comfort and joy to seafarers, make their time ashore more meaningful, and help alleviate the struggles they face at sea. Moreover, the experiences gained through volunteering can shape personal growth, broaden horizons, and create lifelong memories.

Furthermore, volunteers are essential to The Mission to Seafarers’ plans to extend and strengthen their work in Rotterdam. The logistical challenges of the port, coupled with the need to reduce turnaround times, often prevent seafarers from going ashore or experiencing the city. To overcome this, the Mission plans to bring Rotterdam to the seafarers by incorporating Dutch culture and artwork at their seafarers’ centre. They also aspire to develop an innovative electric vehicle to provide on-ship services. With an ideal volunteer team of at least 25, individuals can make a significant impact in a port recognised for its advanced infrastructure and green agenda. By joining forces with other welfare agencies and port services, the Mission aims to enhance seafarers’ well-being and create a lasting difference in their lives.

While The Mission to Seafarers greatly appreciates the dedication of its current volunteers, the need for more hands-on-deck remains. Following the challenges brought by COVID-19 and the loss of many volunteers, The Mission to Seafarers seeks to rebuild its volunteer teams in various ports worldwide. Whether you’re an ex-seafarer, a retired shipping executive, or simply someone with a desire to serve and make a positive impact, there’s a place for you at The Mission to Seafarers.

We invite you to explore the diverse volunteering opportunities available, such as ship visiting, driving, and assisting in Seafarers Centres. Your commitment and compassion can make a world of difference to seafarers who tirelessly navigate the world’s oceans to keep global trade flowing. Join us in unlocking the power of volunteering and be part of the force that cares for the wellbeing of seafarers worldwide. To learn more about volunteering opportunities and to apply, visit https://www.missiontoseafarers.org/volunteering

Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of seafarers, champion their welfare, and ensure they receive the support and care they deserve.



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