MPs mark Sailors’ Society’s 200th birthday

Sailors' Society 200th Anniversary Westminster Reception.
Sailors’ Society 200th Anniversary Westminster Reception.

A host of industry representatives, MPs and members of the House of Lords joined international maritime charity Sailors’ Society to mark its 200 years of supporting seafarers and their families around the world, at a reception held in Parliament last week (6th June).

Event host and MP for Portsmouth South Stephen Morgan gave a warm welcome to guests, including Secretary of State for International Development and Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister of State for Care Caroline Dinenage MP, and the Shadow Shipping Ministe,  Karl Turner MP.

Penny Mordaunt MP said: “It was great to hear about the care and support Sailors’ Society has provided to seafarers in need over the past 200 years, such as working to help seafarers look after their mental health during the long contracts at sea and supporting their families back at home in times of crisis.”

Representatives from many of the charity’s partners joined the event, including from Britannia P&I, Coltraco Ultrasonics, Inmarsat, UK P&I, Waves Group, Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest and Seafarers’ International Research Centre. The event was also attended by Jackie Doyle-Price, Minister for Mental Health, who recently went ship visiting with the charity to hear about its Wellness at Sea programme and talk first hand with seafarers about conditions on board.

Kim Spooner, whose aunt and uncle lost their lives in the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster, spoke movingly about her family’s experience and the support they have received from Sailors’ Society over the years. A video case study from Sailors’ Society’s Albanian port chaplain, Ilir Cami, highlighted why seafarers are often reluctant to be open about health problems for fear of losing their job, and the sometimes tragic consequences of this.

Sailors’ Society’s CEO Stuart Rivers said: “We’re so grateful for the support we receive from our corporate partners, which makes so much of what we do possible. MPs also have a long history of supporting the charity’s work – very appropriately, our first Chairman was Bernard Shaw MP.

“However, being 200 years old doesn’t mean we can sit back on our laurels, and we continue to change and adapt in order to better support the men and women who play such an important role in transporting our goods at sea.”

Sailors’ Society was founded on 18th March 1818 to minister to the needs of destitute seafarers returning home from the Napoleonic Wars.

The charity now works in 30 countries around the world, supporting seafarers and their families at home, in port and at sea, through the delivery of chaplaincy, education and the relief of poverty and distress.