Sailors' Society

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Sailors' Society's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Sailors' Society is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Chief Executive Stuart Rivers
Sailors’ Society built new
classrooms in the Philippines
after Typhoon Haiyan hit
Sailors’ Society has a 200-year history of transforming the
lives of the invisible workforce who make world trade
possible – but as the shipping industry responds to huge
global change, it is not resting on its laurels. As the world’s
oldest Christian maritime welfare charity, the organisation
celebrated the bicentenary of its founding, to help desperate
seafarers in London’s docks, in 2018. Chief Executive Stuart
Rivers tells
The Parliamentary Review
Our mission is to meet the practical, emotional and spiritual needs of seafarers and
their families at home, in port and at sea. More than 90 per cent of the world’s
trade is carried by sea, transported by 1.6 million seafarers, many of whom come
from deprived communities and see the job as a route out of poverty. They spend
up to a year at sea away from their loved ones, facing isolation, violent storms and
even piracy during the course of their work.
Sailors’ Society’s vision was – and continues to be – clear: to be seen as the leading
charity for the welfare and well-being of seafarers and their families worldwide.
We can uniquely describe ourselves as a 200-year-old start-up: with a combination
of experience and innovation, legacy and agility, which is having a demonstrable
impact on the lives of the often-overlooked men and women who bring us the
goods we rely on every day.
Innovating and disrupting
Over the past five years since I took the charity’s helm, we’ve dramatically transformed
the way we operate. When I arrived in 2013, we were limited to a small number
»Chief Executive: Stuart Rivers
»Founded in 1818
»Based in Southampton
»Seafarers reached per year:
»Ships visited per year: 18,775
»Countries covered: 30
»Ports covered: 91
Sailors’ Society
Highlighting best practice
Children’s education in
Ghana is supported by
the Society
Chaplains are on hand
to provide a friendly ear
Typhoon Haiyan struck
in November 2013
We can
ourselves as a
of chaplains visiting ships in 14
countries. Now our chaplains reach
out to around 375,000 seafarers a
year in 30 countries, including some of
the world’s biggest seafaring nations;
last year we announced plans to offer
the first port-based welfare provision
We have also expanded our remit
so that we are no longer limited to
reacting to the needs of seafarers
when we meet them in port. We
have developed a much more holistic,
proactive approach, complementing
our ship-side work by transforming
seafaring communities.
We’ve done all this through a
bold expansion plan: introducing
programmes, media and advocacy,
expanding our chaplaincy, creating
regional hubs around the globe and
using digital technology to support an
ever-growing number of seafarers.
Our programme expansion began in
2013 when the Philippines, home to
a third of the world’s seafarers, was
devastated by super-typhoon Haiyan.
We continue to work closely with local
seafaring communities and respond
to a variety of needs as they arise,
including providing school boats for
Filipino children who had to wade
or swim two kilometres just to get
We have now expanded our work
in seafaring communities to other
parts of the globe – from Bangladesh,
where our disaster risk-reduction
project is helping 4,400 people, to
education projects in Ghana and
Madagascar and health clinics in
India and Indonesia. We care for
seafarers from the beginning of
their lives, building maternity units
and classrooms, to the end; offering
health checks for retired seafarers and
repatriating the bodies of those who
have died at sea.
We’re also working towards both
the prevention and cure of seafarer
ill-health. Our Wellness at Sea training
programme, supported by an app,
has helped more than 3,500 seafarers
understand and manage their own
physical and mental well-being. We
offer health checks in port to catch
problems before they can destroy
careers and our Crisis Response
Network gives vital support when
disaster strikes.
The future is agile
During our life as a charity, the
shipping industry has undergone
incredible changes. Globalisation has
brought with it giant, multinational
shipping companies and has enabled
countries to work together to combat
problems like piracy.
Industrial development has utterly
transformed the materials vessels are
constructed from and the way they
run, making them bigger, faster and
more powerful, with the ability to
carry vast quantities of cargo around
the world. Innovation and changes
in the law have led to greater safety
measures and protected the lives of
many thousands of seafarers.
Agility has become a key part of
Sailors’ Society’s culture. New
technologies have offered us huge
opportunities to keep seafarers
connected with their communities
across the world, giving them Wi-Fi
access and phone cards to speak to
their loved ones. We’ve developed
apps to help seafarers keep well at
sea, and to enable chaplains to share
information so that they can care
effectively for crews as they travel
As we look to the future, there are
a lot of predictions about where
technology may take seafaring
next – from the possibility of more
automation in the industry to the
widespread adoption of wearables
that monitor seafarers’ health and
shifts. As long as there are seafarers in
need we will continue to break new
ground in order to deliver the very best
Our vision was
– and continues
to be – clear: to
be seen as the
leading charity
for the welfare
and well-being
of seafarers and
their families
Sailors’ Society chaplains
support seafarers around
the world

This article was sponsored by Sailors' Society. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy