Initiated by seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) and largely funded by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB), the facility offers visiting crew a dedicated space to relax and communicate with their families back home.
Sr Marian Davey, AoS Port Chaplain at King’s Lynn said; “It is the first time in the port’s recent history that a space has been set aside specifically for seafarers to use.
“This is a big first. Up till now, crew had to go into town to buy top-up cards to be able to contact home. Now they have free use of Wi-Fi and internet at the centre because AoS is paying for that cost.”
The centre was formally opened by Bishop Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia and Bob Jones, chairman of the MNWB. It will be a place where seafarers can chat with the port chaplain and volunteers as well as access the internet to communicate with friends and families after months at sea.
With ships usually docking for no more than 24 hours, crews are often unable to leave the port. This facility will provide much needed respite and act as a base for AoS teams to support crew members in any way required, such as providing seafarers with the opportunity to contact friends and family, looking after seafarers who are abandoned in port, those who are sick or injured, and helping seafarers attend church services or praying with a crew following a fatality, if requested by the seafarers themselves.
Alastair McFarlane, Port Manager East Anglia said: “We owe a great deal of gratitude to the brave men and women who operate the vessels that keep this nation supplied. So we are really proud to be part of delivering this vital service to crew visiting the port of King’s Lynn. Seafarers spend a lot of time on board their ships and with this service we can offer them a home away from home.”
Sr Marian added that she was grateful to ABP – the owner and operator of King’s Lynn port – for offering AoS a prime site at a very good location in the port for the seafarers’ centre.
“The location is excellent and works well for seafarers coming off ships. Everyone at ABP, from management and staff to the shipping agents, has been encouraging and supportive, and measures are in place to ensure that seafarers coming ashore have all the information they need about the AoS centre,” she said.