A bus transformed into a mobile seafarer centre for use in a major UK port has had a positive response from seafarers.
The mobile seafarer centre trial was launched in the Port of Southampton on Thursday 17 August. It was parked for one day only in the Eastern Docks (38/9 berth), where hot and cold drinks, snacks and free WiFi were available to seafarers throughout the day. There was also a TV on the bus, a place for visitors to relax, and a seating area to talk to chaplains.
The new initiative was organised and funded by leading Southampton maritime charity the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB). Southampton-based chaplains from fellow maritime charities Stella Maris, The Mission to Seafarers and Sailors' Society were on hand to provide support and services on the day, along with invited former seafarers.
MNWB CEO Stuart Rivers said: 'We had a really positive reaction to this pilot project to see whether there is an appetite among seafarers for something like this. We chose Southampton port – which is one of the biggest in the UK – for the first trial as, pre-Covid-19, it saw around 600,000 visits from seafarers each year.'
While there is a small centre in the port, the two main city centres in Queen's Terrace and East Street have closed.
The mobile project vehicle was transformed earlier this year by Southampton & District Transport Heritage Trust, a volunteer-led organisation which preserves and restores former buses and vehicles across the city. The event was also facilitated by ABP Ports, the Statutory and Competent Harbour Authority for Southampton port.
Future trials are anticipated but no dates are available as yet.