Due to visa restrictions and short turnarounds, many crews of international cargo ships stay in port after docking. Their brief stints ashore are frequently spent in seafarers’ centres, where they can unwind and connect with families who are often oceans away, before climbing back aboard and shipping out.
As the UK is an island nation relying on international seafarers for 95% of all imports and exports, the Felixstowe & Haven Port Seafarer Services (FHPSS) seeks to give seafarers respite from some of the hardships they endure whilst at sea.
A typical seafarer can spend 12 months away from their loved ones with no communication for weeks or months at a time whilst sailing across vast oceans.
In this regard, the FHPSS is one of many organisations including the Port of Felixstowe that looks out for the Seafarers well-being. Felixstowe Seafarer’ Centre is a small and sparse space, equipped with just a few amenities, including a piano, a pool table, WiFi access and a souvenir shop.
FHPSS offers the simplest of support which is usually just a break from the ship routine right through to full on support which may involve spiritual, ship mediation or help to contact home.