Volunteer shortage holds back mission services

DENNIS Alexander travels from Gracemere to Gladstone every week to help out at the Mission to Seafarers.

He first came to the mission to do volunteer work, but found himself drawn to the place.

"I felt compelled to come. I could see that there was a real need for the mission to help improve the welfare of the seafarers," he said.

"These people live on a steel prison for most of their lives. All they want to do when in port is to get off the ship and feel normal for the short time they are here.

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"They will either go shopping and people watch or they will go somewhere and have a quiet beer and people watch.

"If we can do something to make that happen, then we are helping them a great deal."

Providing a reliable transport service is the most important thing the mission can do for seafarers, Mr Alexander said.

"They need to know that we will be there to pick them up, take them where they need to go and bring them back to their ship when they are needed back.

"They live a crazy life. Put it this way: we are an invisible ministry to invisible people."

The mission caters for 1000 seafarers a month, on average. The language barrier is always an issue, but the quality of care they receive helps break that down.

"They often come in here very suspicious on their first visit but soon they become much more relaxed and use the place as a home away from home."

However, the mission suffers because of a massive shortage of volunteers.

"They left when the building boom was on and when they could get good prices for their homes.

"Now we are left always looking for more volunteers to help out."



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