Charity for seafarers stuck on ships at port

Socks, a basketball and jars of Nutella are among the items that have been given to crew on ships docked in Liverpool in the coronavirus crisis. Since March, many ports have not allowed crew changes or shore leave, so thousands stay stuck on their ships. John Wilson, from Liverpool Seafarers Centre, said: "Sometimes they're the forgotten workforce, who bring 95% of our goods and services into the UK.

"If it wasn't for them, the country would grind to a halt in three weeks." Ships have come to Liverpool from as far as India, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines, and the crews may have been at sea for up to a year. Peel Ports, the owner of Liverpool docks, has said it is "more important than ever before to keep supply chains open".

Captain Leszek Misiun, on the RMS Veritas, said: "To keep a safe vessel, we don't go ashore so the crew is actually isolated on board."

The charity Liverpool Seafarers Centre has been offering support through the crisis, checking in on about 3,000 seafarers and providing items such as toothpaste, toiletries and chocolate. "Normally when a ship comes in, the crew will get a few hours onshore but during the coronavirus crisis this just hasn't been possible," Mr Wilson said. "The crews were feeling hemmed in, stuck on a ship with nowhere to go - and the ships may be in port for three or four days, or even a week.

"Many crew members have been at sea for months, thousands of miles away from home, and our aim is to make this difficult time as easy as possible for them."

One RMS Veritas crew member said: "It makes us feel that we are not alone in this situation, so far away from our home."

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