Almost two weeks since I updated this blog… It would be easy to say that I forgot, but the truth is that I just have not had the chance to sit down and do an update.
I am pleased to say that the Filipino Seafarer who was sent home for ‘washing his passport’ has a new job – not with the same company though! The agency who sent him home at his expense, is one of the major employers of Filipino seafarers and in conversations with other Filipino seafarers on the agencies vessels, many have said that they are being unfairly treated and having to stay longer than their contracts. As ever, they are too afraid to make a formal complaint as this could lead to loss of job and blacklisting! MLC2006 is all well and good, but it doesn’t protect the seafarer at the sharp end where poor working conditions and intimidation is still rife!
We had the visit of HMS Diamond… quite a ship as you can see…
There have been some interesting ship visits these past two weeks – sad to say, the ‘mood’ of seafarers is generally downbeat. I was on an Olympic vessel and three of them have gone back to Norway for lay-up…
Shore side, I am getting a significant increase in requests for assistance form seafarers who have been made redundant and my pastoral counselling has seen a steep increase!
Thankfully not all seafarers who visit the Centre do so for sad reasons. It was good to catch up with a good friend and seafarer when he paid off his vessel after another month at sea. Gordon gave me the honour of conducting his mothers funeral a number of years back and he promises to bring me back a Cornish Pastie one of these days! He will be back and onboard for Christmas so will get one of the 3,000 parcels that have been wrapped up for seafarers. Gordon will be spending Christmas at sea along with his shipmates and the many others on standby vessels.
I have had several speaking engagements – always an enjoyable time. I was speaking at Bridge of Don over 55 club and Culter Friendship Club. These are opportunities to highlight the needs of seafarers in general, but also to enlighten them about the Aberdeen Seafarers Centre and offer opportunities for them to get involved.
I was on a vessel yesterday which came from Angola and the security rating that greeted me looked a bit scary? As you can see in the picture, he was feeling the chill of Aberdeen!
Joey was delighted, along with a number of his crew, to get free SIM card and to buy top-ups to enable them to get in touch with family. They had not been in port for 35 days – anchored off the African coast with no means to call home. Later that day, I opened up the Centre to let them in to use our Free Skype enabled computers and wi-fi.
Today is Remembrance Day in the UK.
I was privileged to conduct a service to remember the great sacrifices made by so many though various conflicts from the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force and the Fourth Service, the Merchant Navy.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
So life continues to be busy and I am amazed at the help given to me by my great team of volunteers – without their support, the Aberdeen Seafarers Centre could not operate as it does.
If you live in the Aberdeen area and would like to get involved, then do get in touch – there are many ways that you can help – you may be just the person we are looking for!
Feel free to get in touch using the contact page.
Right, time to sign off for now. Hopefully I will update you a week on Friday!