Holy Family Appeal

AoS Immingham Port Chaplain Bryony Watson

Help a seafarer keep in contact with their family 

The feast of the Holy Family reminds us about the importance of family but seafarers often spend months away from theirs. This can sometimes put a huge strain on family commitments. Not being there for birthdays, special occasions and during difficult times are sadly all part and parcel of a seafarer's job. 

We probably have all met someone who has complained about working long hours, and how that can put a huge strain on family commitments. For seafarers such as “Eka” (not his real name), this is a price he has to pay to support this family.

Bryony Watson (pictured), AoS Port Chaplain in Immingham in Lincolnshire, first met Eka, earlier this year when his ship visited the port. “Even though he was only twenty, he was the youngest member of the crew,” she said. “But he was already working his third contract. His contract was supposed to be for ten months, but the company kept extending it, and he didn’t want to complain.

“I’d seen this on other vessels, a ten-month contract was no surprise and remember seafarers work seven days a week, for ten months. I’ve also come across seafarers having plane tickets taken off them at the last minute and promised repatriation next week, or the following week, and so on.

“Eka told me that his father is in and out of hospital for his cancer treatment, which is costly in his home country. And with his father being ill, the cost of his three younger siblings’ school fees has fallen to him.”

Eka’s story of sending home most of the little money he earns is a common one among the seafarers Bryony meets. But the financial pressure to take on long contracts in order to support your family can also place a huge strain on a seafarer’s mental health.

It’s often not realised that when a ship is out at sea the crew don’t have access to the internet or the phone. This is why there is growing concern in the maritime industry about anxiety, depression and even suicide among seafarers feeling lonely and isolated.

Like all AoS chaplains, Bryony always carries a supply of mobile-phone top-up cards and SIM cards and the seafarers’ centre in the port offers free internet access. At one time, seafarers like Eka could at least be able to look forward to time ashore after arriving in a port.  

But the changes in the shipping industry mean that the time they get ashore is now very short. And some ships never actually dock. Oil tankers, for example, may connect to a pipeline somewhere off shore.

Bryony has met Eka several times when his vessel has visited Immingham and has found that the most valuable thing she can do for him is just sit and talk with him and listen to his concerns. “Eka said he is already planning to extend this contract to a year, as his family are so in need of the money,” said Bryony. “But he told me that he would never let his little brother go to sea.”
 

Please remember in prayer all those seafarers who are separated from their families. Help them keep in contact with their families.
 

 

  • £15 could pay for a ship visit by our port chaplain.
     
  • £35 could take a crew to Mass.
     
  • £100 could help pay for Christian literature specifically for seafarers.
     

To make a donation click on the red box below.



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