The Mission to Seafarers Response to COVID-19
Now and Beyond…
Helping seafarers and families with their
immediate and future needs…
The Mission has carefully considered its response to the COVID-19 pandemic which is having such a major effect on all our lives.
We are still able to sustain a service in many ports. However, that service is now necessarily much more limited as a result of local and national regulation, together with best practice. Most Seafarers Centres have had to close, along with our transport services. It is an overriding priority of our teams to ensure no virus spread to seafarers. However, where it is allowed, we are continuing careful and distanced gangway visitation, together with supply delivery. Nevertheless, it is now much more difficult to provide the kind of practical, pastoral and welfare intervention seafarers normally expect from us – and this at a time when mental health and well-being is more of an issue than ever.
To that end we have launched a major focus on “digital chaplaincy”. We are supporting chaplains in maintaining digital and social media contact with their seafarer networks. More than that, and in collaboration with ecumenical partners, we have launched a “Chat to a Chaplain” service. This is a major digital facility allowing 25 chaplains at any one time to connect with seafarers who may want to talk or seek support and advice. Our ‘Chat to a Chaplain’ helpline will work collaboratively with the ISWAN seafarer helpline and the icall centre, supported by Synergy.
In addition to our work with seafarers, we also remain closely in touch with seafarers’ families through our Family Support Networks, including in the Philippines. Our excellent WeCare programmes will continue to be delivered as opportunity allows in this much-changed environment. These deliver social media and safe use of the internet training to seafarers and their families, with financial literacy support to follow shortly. Similarly, we continue to deliver vital training to our front-line teams, equipping them to provide mental health first aid, post-trauma care and suicide prevention.
We continue to be heavily involved in advocacy, again playing our part within a wider partnership in efforts to flag up to governments and key agencies the essential nature of seafarer work and the paramount need to ensure effective transit arrangements and access to welfare.
As the days pass, we will be sharing more of our plans to help seafarers and their families through a number of initiatives, particularly in the field of mental health and family support.
We welcome all communications to discuss our response.
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