Caring for Seafarers far from home

Imagine being away from home for months or even up to a year. Many seafarers work to provide a better life for their families, but life on board is tough and can be dangerous with seafarers often enduring extreme weather conditions, particularly during the cold winter months at sea.

Mission to Seafarers Newcastle (MTS) provides a home away from home at the centre in Wickham, with many comforts to recharge a weary seafarer.  MTS help them connect with friends and family, often seeing children for the first time over WiFi. The service offers access to medical attention, shopping, welfare needs and chaplaincy services, providing mental and spiritual care.

During the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, seafarers were unable to come ashore due to international boarder restrictions. It created a greater sense of isolation and disconnection from community, more than ever before.

To support seafarers, especially over Christmas and the holidays, MTS, Port Waratah, volunteers and Newcastle Port partners came together to deliver the Seafarers Christmas Donation Drive. This special initiative created more than 1,200 gift bags each year, filled with donated goodies and Christmas well wishes. Port Waratah and their supply partners provided donations of gloves, beanies, socks and treats, plus hands on packing to help MTS and the seafarers at this special time of year.

Local portside schools and employee children’s school communities were involved in the initiative, creating more than 900 pieces of delightful handmade Christmas cards, letters and decorations in 2020. Christmas delivered!

Seafarers aboard the Genco Tiberius vessel that received the care packs wrote to MTS:

“Good Day, we received the gifts sent by you. It’s very heartwarming to receive those beanie caps. Also, the handwritten letters and a beautiful ship drawn. We have displayed it on the notice boards and the ship’s staff of Genco Tiberius would like to thank you for all the gifts. Thank you for thinking about us in this pandemic situation.”

MTS together with Port Waratah, Hunter New England Health are working together to facilitate seafarers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations while vessels are berthed at Port Waratah. This is a great health outcome for the seafaring community.

Christmas gift
bags delivered
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