The Mission to Seafarers unveils new seafarer welfare centre in Port Talbot

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The Mission to Seafarers has unveiled a new centre for seafarers in Port Talbot, significantly increasing its vital welfare service provision for seafarers calling at the port.

Supported by a £35,000 grant from the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, the new centre will offer high-quality respite care to the hundreds of seafarers who visit the port each year, providing them with a place to relax, socialise, and connect with friends and family back home.

The centre will provide seafarers with access to a number of modern facilities including free WIFI, games consoles, and a small shop selling snacks and essential items. For those who need it, emotional, spiritual and practical support will also be provided onsite by the port chaplain, centre manager, and volunteer staff.

Used by the nearby Tata Steelworks to import coal and iron ore, Port Talbot is one of the most significant ports in South Wales, and is one of the few in the UK capable of handling Capesize vessels of up to 170,000 tonnes deadweight (DWT).

Speaking at the official opening ceremony, Rev Mark Lawson-Jones, Port Chaplain Wales, commented: “We are immensely grateful to the Merchant Navy Welfare Board for their generous donation, and to all those involved in making this project happen.

“For a number of years now we’ve been struggling to provide adequate support to the increasing number of seafarers from around the world calling at Port Talbot, due to the limited size of the previous centre and a lack of modern facilities onsite. The new centre will enable us to provide a warm, friendly, and welcoming environment for the hundreds of seafarers who use the port – many of whom will have sailed for 30 to 40 days without a single stop and without any way of communicating with their loved ones. The centre’s free WIFI for all seafarers is a very important feature.”

Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General, The Mission to Seafarers, added: “The Mission is committed to meeting the needs of seafarers around the globe in a fast changing maritime environment. As such, our work needs to continually evolve. With over 120 centres around the world, we are looking to ensure we have the right kind of facilities in the right places supported by the right balance of staff and volunteers. We need to be relevant to the seafarers of today.

“I am very proud of our new facility in Port Talbot. It continues the very best traditions of hospitality that have been deep in the DNA of The Mission to Seafarers since 1856. It offers a warm welcome in a fresh, modern environment with a range of services. It is also very close to the ships.

“The Mission to Seafarers has had a long involvement with Port Talbot and we recognise the very particular needs of seafarers here. Often arriving from very distant ports, the port itself is quite remote from the facilities of the town. Our centre has always been greatly valued. I pay tribute to the deep commitment of staff and volunteers who have done such great work here over so many years. My thanks go also to all who have worked so hard to bring this project to fruition and to those who have helped fund it, especially the Merchant Navy Welfare Board.

“I cannot think of anything better to mark St David’s Day than to see the culmination of this exciting venture in Wales.”