Maritime charity Liverpool Seafarers Centre (LSC) has struck a deal to provide support to thousands of cruise ship crew for the third successive year at a special base at Liverpool Cruise Terminal.
LSC CEO John Wilson said it has reached agreement with Liverpool City Council, and the cruise terminal, to operate a support centre from a converted shipping container. The container has been donated by the Maersk shipping line and is positioned on the terminal near Princes Parade.
Mr Wilson was speaking as he welcomed crew from the first cruise ship of the season to arrive in Liverpool, the Fred Olsen liner the MS Black Watch. The cruise season runs from April to November and 58 ships are due in Liverpool this year each with between 120 and 1346 crew.
Mr Wilson said with most crew only permitted off ship for up to two hours it is vital to have an LSC base at the terminal itself to complement its headquarters in Crosby.
“Liverpool has a reputation for being one of the friendliest and most welcoming cities in the world to seafarers,” he said. “We are one of the few port cities to have a seafarer welfare centre in a cruise terminal. This makes all the difference to the crew, who would otherwise struggle to find the time to travel to outreach centres. Liverpool is leading the way in offering support to cruise ship crew. The seafarers are mostly from poor third world countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, India and the Philippines. They are bread winners and spend their lives working away from their families just to send money home. With such a tough life it is vital they have a friendly person they can turn to, to offer confidential support, in case they have difficulties either on ship or at home.”
Mr Wilson said crew will be offered a range of services at LSC’s cruise terminal centre.
“While we offer a lot of practical help such as access to WIFI and money exchange we are also there for more serious matters,” he said. “This may relate to a health issue or a major life event for them or a family member such as a birth, marriage, divorce or bereavement. We can act as a go-between and can talk to the cruise line or ship management company if there are problems to ensure the seafarer is being properly cared for. Last year, for example, we provided extensive support to a crew member who needed urgent hospital treatment. We arranged for the treatment to happen and organised transport and overnight accommodation at our Crosby centre and we undertook the paperwork for their travel home.”
Peter Murney head of operations Cruise Liverpool said having John Wilson and his team from LSC at the cruise terminal has been a huge success with more than 68,000 crew using its services. He said Cruise Liverpool wants LSC to continue having its cente at the cruise terminal on a long-term basis.
Mr Wilson said LSC relies on donations and is always on the look-out for volunteers to help at the centres making cups of tea, providing a friendly ear and driving the mini bus.
Corporate supporters of LSC include: Essar’s Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port, Peel Ports, the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, the Mersey River Pilots, Mersey Maritime, the Voluntary Aid Club and The Phoebe Wortley Charitable Trust.
LIVERPOOL SEAFARER CENTRE BACKGROUND
- Liverpool Seafarers Centre’s roots date back to the 19th century and is a partnership between the Catholic Apostleship of the Sea (Liverpool) and the Anglican Mersey Mission to Seafarers.
- LSC is funded by donations from the churches, we well as general donations and a new port levy on shipping lines.
- LSC provides support to 50,000 seafarers passing through Liverpool each year and is headquartered at Colonsay House in Crosby and opened a new centre in Eastham on the Wirral opened in 2017.
- LSC centres provide ‘a lifeline’ to seafarers, offering a safe and secure place to rest and also receive practical and emotional support.
- With 95 per cent of British imports and exports transported by sea the UK is dependent on seafarers.