The welfare fund is expected to further enable visits to ships, legal support, translation and communication support, counselling, transport and emergency care.

As explained, the welfare, conditions and pay of seafarers varies greatly around the world. Some merchant ships can be at sea for nine months or more at any one time, meaning the crew are away from their families for long periods.

In response, the welfare fund has created an option for shipping lines to pay a voluntary levy each time one of their vessels come into Port. The Port then matches the levy, contributing 50p for every £1 collected through the welfare fund. The optional levy is based on a vessel's Gross Tonnage and ranges from £20 to £30 per ship, payable on the vessel's first ten visits to the Port each calendar year.

In 2016, around £10,000 was raised by the Port of Tyne welfare fund and will be distributed to projects that support seafarers, via the Merchant Navy Welfare Board - providing funding to the principal welfare organizations that offer services to seafarers visiting the Tyne. Such organizations are the Mission to Seafarers, Apostleship of the Sea and Fishermen's Mission, all of which are dependent entirely on charitable donations. 

Andrew Moffat, Port of Tyne Chief Executive Officer, said: "We are delighted that we have been able to work with the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and introduce a scheme that provides practical help and support to the many ships' crews who come in to our port. Targeted specifically for crew members who may need some support in a variety of ways, whether that is a phone call to contact their families, get some welfare advice or provide emergency care, we hope it will help to make a difference."