“In my capacity as Vice Chair of the local Port Welfare Committee and, in my spare time, a seafarers’ volunteers’ co-ordinator for the port area I have been asked to explain the important role welfare volunteers play on the Tees.
Even though I run my own maritime company I have been working for a voluntary organisation for over 30 years. In that time I have done just about every job associated with seafarers’ welfare and I know first-hand how trained volunteers, who represent ‘bone fide’ seafarers’ welfare voluntary organisations, can make a real difference to seafarer’s lives. I know they play an incredibly important part in the delivery of welfare services to seafarers – not only on the Tees but around the world.
Our volunteers help with the operation of seafarer’s centres; conduct welfare visits to seafarers in ships or in hospital. They act as drivers providing seafarers’ with free port transportation to the seafarers centre, to the doctors, into town or the local supermarket. On the Tees we couldn’t possibly deliver the high quality of welfare services we do without them.Some people ask “What type of person wants to volunteer for the voluntary organisations”. Well, there is no clear answer to that question because it literally takes all sorts. We have retired and employed personnel – full time and part time; male and female; we have professional people, we even have a Paediatric Surgeon! All of these people give up their valuable spare time to deliver welfare services and make seafarers welcome when they arrive in port.
So, a better question might be “What do individuals actually get out of being a volunteer?”…for that there is a simple answer “the enjoyment of helping seafarers – who always appreciate their efforts”. They enjoy giving them the benefit of their local knowledge and extending the warmest welcome to port visitors who may be thousands of miles away from home in a foreign country”.Volunteers know that many seafarers have little rest and recuperation time alongside and ensure they are cared for and safe during their limited time ashore. All our volunteers are professional trained and have carried out the port authorities health and safety induction course. Volunteers do not go anywhere uninvited – they understand and respect that the ship is both a place of work and the seafarer’s home.
Finally, our volunteers fully support the ISWAN programme because it brings us all together to work in partnership for the common good of the seafarer, irrespective of faith or nationality.”