2018 marked international maritime charity, Sailors’ Society, 200th birthday. Founded in London in 1818 to minister to the needs of destitute seafarers who had returned home from the Napoleonic Wars. It is due to the generosity of organisations like the Baltic Exchange that the Sailors’ Society has reached its bicentenary writes CEO, Stuart Rivers for Baltic Briefing.
The relationship between Baltic Exchange and Sailors’ Society goes back many years. Since 2006, Baltic Exchange and its staff have given more than £140,000 to the charity. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated vast areas of the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people. In response to the tragedy, Baltic Exchange donated an incredibly generous £10,000 to our emergency appeal, which contributed to the disaster relief of stricken seafaring communities in the country. This generosity allowed Sailors’ Society to rebuild homes, livelihoods and communities and five years down the line, we are still helping those affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
Baltic Exchange has also shown its support of our work by funding a minibus for one of our chaplains, enabling our ship visitors to provide vital transport to seafarers, giving them vital time away from the port environment.
The organisation has supported an array of Sailors’ Society’s events – taking part in and sponsoring Three Peaks Challenges since 2006. Baltic Exchange staff have regularly shown they’re an active bunch, with teams competing in everything from dragon boat races to golf days – as well as attending the ING wine tasting and London shipping ball and dinners.
Staff have even run events such as cricket days and Baltic RFC matches to raise funds for our cause.
The company currently funds the work of David See, our port chaplain in Singapore, which enables him to undertake his crucial work with seafarers visiting the port. Between July 2017 and September of this year, David made 1,071 ship visits. Whether that’s transporting seafarers to the local amenities or providing them with SIM cards so that they can communicate with loved ones back home – David’s practical and emotional support is vital to seafarers visiting Singapore and is made possible by Baltic Exchange’s kindness.
So far, in 2018, the Baltic Exchange has supported the Society with a team in Ride London and guests attending our 200th anniversary dinner at the Lloyds’ Register Committee Room in November.
Although Sailors’ Society is more than 200 years old, many of the issues faced by the seafarers we supported in our fledgling years are the same faced by seafarers today, and our chaplains are still there for those facing isolation, dangerous conditions and separation from loved ones.
Problems like piracy still affect the world’s 1.6m seafarers, which is why the charity has created a Crisis Response Network to support those traumatised by incidents such as natural disasters, kidnapping and piracy.
Sailors’ Society has moved with the times, creating apps to improve on-board well-being and more connected welfare provision for seafarers. Since 2013, we’ve doubled the number of our chaplains. Our chaplains and ship visitors now have a presence in 91 global ports, with wider projects and services covering 30 countries.
As we go into our 201st year, there are many ways you can support our global work. For the intrepid, we’ve a variety of exciting events lined up for 2019, including spaces on Ride London and the London Marathon.
If you would like more information about our programme of events, click here to connect with our team.
For fans of maritime stories and to celebrate our 200th anniversary, we have produced a fascinating commemorative book – 200 Stories from the Sea. It is a collection of stories from the Society’s archives and takes readers on a journey from the desperate times in London’s docks through two World Wars, generations of Royal support and even an appearance from The Beatles.
You can purchase your copy at www.200stories.org knowing that all profits will support our work.
Finally, if you’re doing secret Santa this year, why not visit our new Gifts Ahoy! virtual gifts platform, which features a range of gifts, all of which support seafarers and their families – it certainly beats buying your colleague a pair of socks!
As 2018 draws to a close, everyone at Sailors’ Society would like to wish you a happy Christmas and new year and thank you for your ongoing support of our work.
To find out more about Sailors’ Society, visit: www.sailors-society.org