Seafarers coming into Southampton port will receive a warm welcome and offer of support from international maritime charity Sailors’ Society’s newest recruits.
South African born Kendrick Simon brings more than a decade of chaplaincy experience, having served as a school and police chaplain and more recently managing the music departments and worship teams for several UK churches.
Mr Simon said: “Providing care and support is what makes my heart tick, so it’s a real privilege to offer welfare to seafarers who are far from home and loved ones.”
He was put to the test in his first week, assisting seafarer Tawaia who was hospitalised while his ship was docked in Southampton.
“I had the privilege to support Tawaia on his journey to recovery,” he said. “Happily, he’s now back with his family in Kiribati, but the experience has spurred me on my mission to care for seafarers visiting Southampton.”
Mr Simon will be working alongside volunteer ship visitors and staff at the charity’s Southampton Seafarers’ Centre, including its newly appointed centre manager Simon Mobsby. With both men sharing a name, it seems the team was meant to be.
Mr Mobsby said: “The impact the centre has is just fantastic. Seafarers don’t tend to get a great deal of time off ship, so time ashore is precious.
“The centre offers a home away from home. Even just an hour here is time that seafarers can come into a safe and welcoming environment, switch off and relax, contact family or simply chat with our staff and volunteers.
“They head back to the ship with a smile on their faces and their heads up”.
Last year the centre, which is run by a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, saw more than 7,000 seafarers walk through its doors.
Sailors’ Society, which has its headquarters in Southampton but operates in more than 90 ports around the world, has been caring for seafarers and their families for more than 200 years.
The charity’s chaplains and ship visitors reach out to more than 1,000 seafarers worldwide every day, providing support such as Wi-Fi hotspots, transportation and a listening ear.
As well as its work in ports, Sailors’ Society supports seafarers and their families at home, building houses and schools and providing grants to bring hope and security to seafaring communities.