Lent Appeal

AoS provides friendship to fishermen and seafarers

Abuse. It’s hard to believe it happens here, today. 

But it does. And the victims need our help.

In December 2017 our Immingham Port Chaplain Steve WIllows (pictured below) learnt that nine men had been discovered working in appalling conditions on a fishing vessel. Their ship had arrived on the south coast after midnight and planned to leave before dawn. But police, acting on a tip-off, had boarded.

The men, exhausted and stressed, were living in cramped conditions and surviving on meagre rations. They worked 18-hour days and were never allowed off the ship.

Their mobile phones had been taken, they couldn’t contact their families.

You can’t imagine it happening in UK waters, can you? But it does.

The rescued men were scared and desperate. One of them had been trapped on board for 10 months. Another had been duped out of £3,000 of savings to get a contract with the company.

Now, suddenly, they were all alone in a strange land dealing with police, Home Office officials and the maritime authorities. They had no money, no contacts, no friends.

They couldn’t contact their families. But they had each other and the support provided by the Apostleship of the Sea. Looking back, Steve can’t help but wonder how on earth they coped. When four of the men were relocated to a safe house near where I’m a chaplain, I was able to visit and support them.

At first, the men were extremely wary and sceptical. But Steve and his AoS colleagues kept in touch with all of them. They brought them food and clothing, took them out for meals, topped up their phones so they could call home. It was really heart-warming to see they were beginning to trust us, says Steve. It was really special seeing them regain their confidence.
AoS Immingham Port Chaplain Steve Willows

"Over the following months, we liaised with the authorities on their behalf. When they signed up to an IT course, we found them an old laptop so they could practise their skills. We took them bowling and to church."

"We were the genuine friends the men needed in their moment of crisis. And sometimes all you need is a friend, someone you can trust completely, someone who sees in you the face of Christ. I’ve seen for myself how this simple ministry can change people’s lives," Steve says.

At Christmas one of the men, Kwasi*, finally went home to visit his family in Ghana. The message he sent filled my heart with joy and says it all. “By the grace of God, I am home safely without even a mark on me,” said Kwasi. “My family thank you for your help physically, spiritually and financially. Thank you very much.”

The support from AoS meant everything to Kwasi. But we can only help victims of abuse and other seafarers in crisis if we have the funds to do so. It’s people like you, who give and pray to help fishermen and seafarers, who really make the difference.

This week, we will deal with around two emergency incidents. That could be more victims of abuse, seafarers rushed to hospital or crews abandoned in port.

Or just a simple case of a seafarer who needs someone to listen to his problems.

That makes such a massive difference. Next week, there will be two more...

Picture the fisherman rescued from abuse, stepping off the vessel bewildered, traumatised and having no idea what is happening or whom to trust. Imagine their relief when, thanks to you, a friendly face appears by their side and offers to help.

A thank you note from Kwasi

A thank you letter from fisherman Kwasi to AoS

Help fishermen like Kwasi get back on their feet.

  • £20 can provide vital support to a fisherman in appalling conditions.
  • £50 can provide hi-vis clothing for a volunteer ship visitor.
  • £75 can help fund a chaplain like Steve.

To make a donation click on the red box below.

Continue to ensure vulnerable fishermen and seafarers have a friend when they need one most.

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