In the arms of the the seafarers, sailors Joselito Amadio and Francis Educulane.
In the arms of the the seafarers, sailors Joselito Amadio and Francis Educulane. Paul Braven

Gladstone's welfare centre for sailors needs help

MISSION to Seafarers Gladstone takes in about 15,000 sailors a year and is about 20-30 volunteers short of what it needs.

The Mission runs 24/7 and with plenty of people leaving town, the welfare centre cannot get enough volunteers to cover 42 shifts a week.

Chaplain Russell Cunningham, who works six to seven days a week and is always on call, said he needed 60 volunteers in total to run the centre effectively.

"It's a very important job and it takes a special kind of person. You've got to have a heart. You've got to be Jesus with skin on," Mr Cunningham said.

He said the hardest shifts to fill were from 6pm-10pm on weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday.

"It's difficult to find people who can dedicate time to help out. Usually we only have one volunteer for every two jobs we need to do. We can't even offer the sailors biscuits," he said.

"Compared to Australians these sailors get paid so low. On top of that they're separated from their families and the Mission might be the only place they've been able to come ashore in six or seven months."

Mr Cunningham said the mission offered a range of services for the sailors including a free bus shuttle, ship visits and sleeping and showering arrangements.

But sometimes it was all about the little things, he said.

"A while ago we had this sailor whose next port of call was somewhere in Russia and this guy didn't even have a jumper or any money to buy one. So we had to sort that out before he left," he said.

Mr Cunningham seeks volunteers willing to work one shift a week.



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