Stranded seafarers face a difficult, lonely Christmas; but you can help Posted on 17th December 2020

Date:10th December 2020
Stranded seafarers face a difficult, lonely Christmas; but you can help

 Christmas will look very different for many of us this year, but, however you celebrate it, please spare a thought for a very special group of people. Seafarers.

Seafarers keep world trade moving and bring us 90% of our food, fuel, and everyday items. Their hard, lonely work means that we are still able to have our Christmas dinners and buy our Christmas gifts for friends and family.

Seafarers are key workers. Yet many are having to work beyond their extended contracts, stuck onboard ships and unable to go home to their families because of airline cancellations and national quarantines caused by Covid-19 restrictions.

There are an estimated 400,000 seafarers currently stranded, exhausted, and anxious, with no indication of when they’ll be able to sign off duties and leave their ships. Many will miss spending Christmas at home with family. Many are feeling desolate and forgotten.

Catholic charity Stella Maris (formerly known as Apostleship of the Sea) has chaplains and volunteers working in ports up and down Great Britain. At this moment, and even on Christmas Day, they’ll visit seafarers in ports to provide vital spiritual, pastoral and practical support.

One of their most vital services will be helping seafarers to stay in touch with their families over the Christmas period, by providing internet access through MiFi (mobile WiFi) Units. When this is not possible due to restrictions, Stella Maris remotely provides top-up cards for seafarers’ mobile phones.

Stella Maris will also be providing seafarers with welfare packages containing face masks, toiletries and food. They’ll make videos of Gospel readings and email them on board. They’ll safely hand out small gifts - so seafarers know they’re not forgotten.

All this plays a crucial role in the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers. These seemingly small acts of kindness make a huge difference.

 

As one seafarer says, “Yes, I will be on board this Christmas, away from my family again. I meet people who work with Stella Maris who give us gifts and goodies…and we appreciate that so much.”

This year, the Catholic Church in England and Wales will celebrate Sea Sunday (normally held in July), on 20th December. It’s a special day to remember and thank seafarers for all they do through prayer, reflection and financial support. And this year it gives us the opportunity to make Christmas special for stranded, lonely seafarers during the pandemic.

More details about Sea Sunday are available on www.stellamaris.org.uk/sea-sunday or via Stella Maris’ Facebook page at facebook.com/StellaMarisOrg If you would like to help organise the Sea Sunday Mass in your parish, please contact Stella Maris on 020 7901 1931 or email:info@stellamarismail.org

Stella Maris is only able to continue its support for seafarers through the generosity of many parishes, groups and individuals. The charity encourages and welcomes all contributions by way of prayers, volunteers to visit ships and coordinate parish activities, and financial giving. For more information on volunteering, go to www.stellamaris.org.uk/take-action/get-involved/volunteer-with-us To donate, go to www.stellamaris.org.uk/donate or text SEA to 70460 to donate £5.

 

Stella Maris, (formerly known as Apostleship of the Sea), is a registered UK charity. It relies on voluntary donations, grants and legacies to continue its work.

90% of world trade is transported by ship. However, the life of a seafarer can be dangerous and lonely. They may spend up to a year at a time away from home, separated from their family and loved ones, often working in harsh conditions.

Stella Maris chaplains and ship visitors provide seafarers and fishermen with pastoral and practical support, information and a listening ear.

For more information contact Martin Foley, Chief Executive Officer on +44 (0) 7941231628 or email martin.foley@stellamarismail.org

www.stellamaris.org.uk

facebook.com/StellaMarisOrg

@StellaMarisOrg

Flickr.com/photos/apostleshipofthesea

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