Digital chaplain services available in several languages helped give support to seafarers during the lockdown, Ben Bailey, the Director of Advocacy, Regional Engagement of the Mission to Seafarers, London, shared at a webinar on Sea Sunday, organised by the MTS Lagos.
A very remarkable area the Mission has paid much attention is preparing crew for life at sea, what it would be like and the limitations to expectations.
Bailey had shared during the webinar the need to understand peculiar demands as he emphasised that “there is a difference between seafarers working on crew ships and those on the traditional shipping operation.
“Turnaround time has increased workload. We learnt that seafarers now use their down time to sleep rather than get off the ship because of the pandemic.”
Many may have been the fears and challenges faced by the seafarers, but Bailey said the toughest of them was that of being rejected by families, who fear that seafarers might possibly infect them with the virus.
“On repatriation- a difficult aspect for the seafarers is how their families would receive them back home because of the pandemic. One seafarer was forced to leave his community because the people feared that he would spread the COVID-19 virus,” Bailey shared.
Importantly, as Bailey mentioned, it is for the seafarers to have access to regular communication with loved ones, something they kept requesting, as Bailey said: “Lack of communication with loved ones have been a common complaint from seafarers. Their families feel they are not hearing enough from the seafarers.
“We have also been told that many seafarers who are struck by the pandemic and stuck around the world have also faced restrictions being unable to keep in touch with their loved ones.
Bailey said the MtS , as an organisation, prioritizes mental health concerns about seafarers, as it knows the importance of the seafarers to keeping in touch with their families. Though the challenge of the pandemic heightened the problem.