THE Hastings SeafarersCentre is calling for help to rebuild its headquarters and have enough money to enable it to continue its work supporting ships’ crews.
Heavy rain and storms on Friday 7 January damaged the roof of the group’s Bayview Road building, causing the water-logged ceiling to collapse.
The building is now uninhabitable and the volunteers who are dedicated to supporting ship crews when they come into Western Port need a helping hand.
Branch chairman Geoff Connelly said the repairs to the building would cost thousands of dollars, and there was an urgent and ongoing need to be ready to support new ships arriving in port.
Mr Connelly said Seafarers provided support for all sea crew, many who were on international ships, by welcoming them into the community and providing spiritual support, assistance with transport, and essential supplies in the way of a “care package”.
“The crews appreciate the contact and seeing someone with a smiling face who cares about their welfare,” he said.
“We have a chaplaincy program for all faiths, but sometimes it’s just the welcome and friendly hello they need.”
The Hastings centre provides a recreation room with a pool table and a comfortable space for crews to relax.
“Some of these crew members have been out to sea for 12 months, and appreciate somewhere to be when they get time off the ship and help to get around and get what they need,” Mr Connelly said.
Seafarers has 27 Australian centres that were set up to respond to the many challenges and dangers faced by seafarers.
The organisation works closely with federal government agencies and port users to improve the treatment of seafarers and shipping practices in Australian waters.
The Hastings centre is part of the Australian Council for the Mission to Seafarers, which oversees, supports and encourages the work of missions around Australia.
It is supported by the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches, with an ethos to care for the practical and spiritual welfare of seafarers of all nationalities and faiths.
There are 230 mission sites around the world, including four in Victoria – Melbourne, Portland, Geelong and Hastings, where work is carried out by a small number of staff, chaplains and volunteers.
To volunteer or donate to the Hastings centre call Geoff Connelly on 0447 388 224.