A group of Sixth Form students from Downside School in Bath received a lesson with a difference – they got the chance to discover about the lives of seafarers and the world of shipping.
The students were captivated to learn about the jobs that seafarers do and how Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) provides welfare and pastoral care for them.
AoS development director John Green who presented a talk to 100 pupils last Wednesday said, “We rely on seafarers to bring us up to 95% of the goods we use or consume in the UK.”
“Shipping is one of the most necessary businesses on the planet and there are some 100,000 ships at sea crewed by more than 1.5 million seafarers, yet many are unaware of their existence,” he added.
A few of the students had been on ferries but only one had a family member working at sea, in the Royal Navy.
Seafarers can spend up to nine months at sea, far away from their family and friends, which can sometimes lead to loneliness and isolation. AoS, through its network of 16 port chaplains in ports around Great Britain offers seafarers practical as well as pastoral care.
This includes providing them with free WiFi connection and phone top up cards so they can contact their families back home and being a friend to seafarers.
John said, “The students were very enthusiastic and listened with interest. The most striking question I got asked was 'do you only help Catholics?’ but I assured them that AoS supports all seafarers regardless of race or religion.”