Ecumenical charity Liverpool Seafarers Centre has hailed the heart-warming response to its appeal for donations after the community pulled together to support seafarers.
The Crosby centre called on the public to help after announcing it would be increasing its ship visits for those who cannot leave their vessels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The charity closed its centres in Crosby and Eastham temporarily to crew and visitors following government advice in March, with chief executive John Wilson warning their work was now more important than ever.
He appealed for donations of toiletries, confectionery, puzzles and games, warm clothing, fresh fruit, CDs and recently released DVDs to be taken onto ships to benefit those on board who are separated from their families during the crisis.
And just weeks later, Mr Wilson has congratulated supporters on their efforts, saying he has been overwhelmed by the response.
Among the donations were two hampers put together by Ewan and Arran, whose grandfather was a merchant seafarer, who used their own pocket money to fund their contribution.
He said: “We have been amazed by the support to our appeal from the communities in Crosby, Bootle and Waterloo, with local people really rising to the challenge to support our seafarers.
“As well as the hampers from Ewan and Arran, a special mention should go to Tesco in Coronation Road, Crosby village, which has adopted LSC as one of its charities and delivered three boxes of bananas, pastries and coffee to be taken on board vessels docked in the area. Birkenhead Priory Parish has also been most generous through its The Oak Community Project, both in terms of donations and prayer.”
Mr Wilson said communication, which many of us take for granted, is even more important at the moment, ensuring crew are able to keep in touch with family and friends. Any money donated to the centre will provide a means of communication on board vessels as crew are unable to go ashore to connect to a hotspot. The hardware, together with an internet-enabled sim, creates a hotspot allowing 20 people to connect simultaneously or to download a film, game or simply update the settings. Each unit costs £450 and the centre is aiming to buy ten to loan to vessels whilst in port.
He said: “We rely on seafarers for 95 per cent of everything we import and export so it is of paramount importance that we do everything we can to support them during these difficult times, when many of them are away from loved ones for who knows how long. We are conscious of the knock-on effects on mental health that a crisis of this scale can have and we have seen the lifting effects a visit from our centre volunteers can have on those currently stuck on ships.
“The kindness of local people has been a ray of light during these dark times and we would like to thank everybody who has helped so far, and urge you to keep seafarers in your thoughts.”
Anyone who wishes to help can continue to do so, food toiletries and monetary donations still needed to help LSC continue its vital work.
Liverpool Seafarers Centre, which won the Positive Impact Award at the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards 2020, helps 50,000 seafarers each year visiting Merseyside ports. It is a partnership between Apostleship of the Sea (Liverpool) and The Mersey Mission to Seafarers. In September 2019, LSC was awarded the world’s best seafarer centre at the International Seafarer Welfare Awards (ISWAN) as nominated and voted for by mariners themselves. The charity’s work involves visiting vessels to integrate with the crew, offering a listening ear to help combat isolation and loneliness and providing places ashore for seafarers to relax away from their working environment.