Outside of the shipping industry, it is a little-known fact that 95% of all goods arriving in the UK do so by ship, but the welfare of the crews manning these ships is often overlooked.
Every day many seafarers arrive at Tilbury Docks, the London Gateway and other ports along the River Thames. They are far from home, rarely have English as a first language and really appreciate a chance to spend time away from their ships. The London Tilbury Seafarers Centre provides a friendly place where seafarers can catch up with family and friends via the free internet, relax in comfort with music & TV entertainment, buy refreshments and souvenirs, and socialise with other crew members. The Seafarers Centre operation is managed by Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest (The Seamen’s Mission of the Methodist Church) which is celebrating 175 years of work on the River Thames this year.
The Centre works in partnership with the charities Mission to Seafarers, the German Seaman’s Mission, the Sailors Society and the Apostleship of the Sea, together with the Tilbury port authorities. The Centre’s aim is to raise awareness of the plight of seafarers and at the same time create a welcoming environment for them to visit. Making ship visits is also an important part of the Centre’s daily work, the Chaplains offering pastoral and welfare support to those on board.
The Centre has recently undergone extensive refurbishment. Internally, an area for a shop and new Chaplains’ offices has been created. While externally, a small area of land has been donated by the Port of Tilbury and redeveloped to provide a relaxing seating area with BBQ and sports facilities, including a small basketball court and table tennis.
This Christmas, the Centre’s staff and volunteers assembled some 2000 parcels containing toiletries and a woolly hat and gloves, to distribute to visiting seafarers.
The Centre is entirely dependent on voluntary donations for its day to day running and refurbishments. The next aim is to replace its ageing minibus. If you would be interested in donating or learning more about the Centre’s work, please contact Peter Dalton.