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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister