Christmas has always been a time when we want to be at home with loved ones. But many seafarers will be spending Christmas thousands of miles from those they love and may only get a few moments on the phone to share the festivities with them.
This festive season, international maritime charity Sailors’ Society has launched an appeal to help ease this pain of separation for seafarers across the globe.
Thanks to the charity, which is renowned for its Wellness at Sea programme and 24/7 support, seafarers will have the chance to talk and share this Christmas with others who know what is like to be away from family at the most important times in their lives. They’ll do this through the Society’s Peer-to-Peer Support Groups that allow seafarers to chat and share experiences with one another.
Sailors’ Society’s CEO, Sara Baade, said: “Over the past four years our Peer-to-Peer Support Groups have proved so popular that we now run almost 100 of them. This Christmas they could prove a lifeline, giving seafarers the chance to connect with their peers, to chat and support one another.
“It allows seafarers to be a supportive community while they are at sea, something that can be vital in an increasingly isolated profession. Sailors’ Society is a charity and we rely on fundraising to carry out our work with seafarers and their families. This appeal will not only help us to support seafarers this Christmas, but throughout the year.”
Seafarers like Tala, a mother of two boys aged 11 and nine and a little girl aged six. Tala is on a ship with good connectivity so she can call home. But the call will be very expensive and therefore very quick. She will spend the rest of Christmas separated from them, in another part of the world.
“Christmas is such a magical time for children and I cannot imagine how hard it will be to be apart from them this year. It’s my first Christmas away and I will miss them terribly.”
But Tala is signing up to a Sailors’ Society female support group and won’t face the rest of Christmas alone.
“As a woman at sea, I have had some tough times and it will be so helpful to be able to turn to other female seafarers. They understand and we’ll be able to share experiences and help one another. There will be a bond because we get how one another is feeling.”
As well as female-only groups and groups for general seafarers, Sailors’ Society offers peer-to-peer support to captains, families, cadets and those caught up in the Ukraine conflict. They provide a much-needed community of new friends that can mean everything to those at sea this Christmas.
The groups are part of the charity’s wider 24/7 support system – a global helpline, chaplaincy and Crisis Response Network – all available through every seafarer’s phone, while the charity’s award-winning Wellness at Sea training will help equip them to face future Christmases separated from those they love.
For more details go to sailors-society.org/give