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Seafarers charity needs East Anglia volunteers

Catholic seafarers charity Stella Maris is looking for volunteer parish representatives and ship visitors across the Diocese East Anglia, explains Port Chaplain Julian Wong.


Stella Maris is the largest ship-visiting network in the world, and the official maritime charity of the Catholic Church. 

Seafarers often have to work away from their families and local communities for nine to 12 months at a time.  Across the world, we aim to provide a ‘friend in every port’ and stand alongside seafarers to ensure their rights are upheld. For 100 years we’ve been extending the hand of friendship and welcoming seafarers and fishers to our shores.

Our network of chaplains and volunteers makes more than 70,000 ship visits each year and supports hundreds of thousands of seafarers and fishermen in times of need.

By volunteering with us you can make a real difference to seafarers and fishers in need.

In East Anglia, we are looking for volunteer parish representatives who will help to promote the work of Stella Maris. That person will be the contact for Stella Maris in their own parish.  They can help by collecting within the parish items such as toiletries, rosaries, religious resources, woolly hats, gloves, and thermal wear. These will be given to seafarers on my or the volunteer ship visitor’s visits to the vessels. They can also help by giving a brief presentation to the parishioners on Sea Sunday and with fund raising.

 We are also looking for volunteer ship visitors who will help to visit seafarers on their vessels. At the present time, because of Covid-19, they can visit seafarers at the bottom of the gangways, wearing full PPE. Volunteer ship visitors can provide valuable support to seafarers, simply by being there, befriending them, chatting to them, listening to them and providing support wherever needed. It may be practical support, like shopping for them and helping to supply mobile phone sim cards so they can communicate with their loved ones.

They can provide valuable spiritual support and demonstrate what the scripture has taught us, to love one another as He has loved us. Volunteer ship visitors are needed for Felixstowe, Ipswich, Harwich, King’s Lynn, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. Ship visiting obviously will depend on whether there is any vessel at the port on the day. Volunteers are eligible to claim mileage for travelling to and from home to the ports.

I am available to meet up with anyone interested, to have a chat and answer any other questions they may have. For volunteer ship visitors, I shall also be accompanying them on their visits to the vessels until they feel comfortable to visit on their own. They will be given mandatory online training regarding Health and Safety within the Ports by the Port Authority before they can be issued with the port pass. They will always have contact with myself 24/7 should they need help or support.

For more information, please contact Julian Wong, (Regional Port Chaplain for Felixstowe and the Haven Ports) on julian.wong@stellamarismail.org or call 07758356372, or visit:

www.stellamaris.org.uk/take-action/get-involved/volunteer-with-us/

Pictured above is East Anglia port chaplain Julian Wong with a group of seafarers.

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