09 September 2022

World Suicide Prevention Day – 10 September 2022

Around the world on 10 September, mental health and suicide prevention groups will come together to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

This year in the UK, the Samaritans* are encouraging us to speak to those we are worried about directly. They acknowledge it can be difficult to know how to approach someone you are worried about and recommend the following tips for beginning that conversation.

  • Choose a good time, and somewhere without distractions
  • Use open questions that need more than a yes/no answer. ‘How are things, I’ve noticed you don’t seem quite yourself?’
  • Listen well. ‘How’s that making you feel?’
  • Avoid giving your view of what’s wrong, or what they should do

Even if you’re not worried about someone at this time, why not take the time to speak to your colleagues and ask how they are. You don’t have to be an expert, just taking the time to listen is what matters.

For seafarers requiring help or support, the Mind Call helpline can be contacted at any time via telephone, email, live chat or Whatsapp. Details are available at www.mindcall.org.

More information and details on World Suicide Prevention Day can be found by visiting Samaritans.


01 September 2022

KEEPING A MINDFULNESS DIARY - A Brief Guide to a Simple Practice

A Mindfulness Diary

You might have already tried to keep a written record of the things that go through your mind. Whilst this can be an interesting exercise, it also allows you to review how you felt, and why, at a later date.

Keeping a mindfulness diary is one of the ways that can put some aspects of mindfulness into practice. Similar to the mindfulness diary, is the ‘Worry Diary’, which some people use to record anything that causes them distress.

How frequently it is used is very personal, many of the benefits come from the very exercise of writing and taking time for yourself. Starting a mindfulness diary, some practical recommendations

The diary can be any notebook, pad or item that allows you to keep a periodic record of what went through your mind.

Think about how often you may want to write, a very general recommendation would be 10 minutes a day, but you may prefer to start with no set frequency.

What am I going to write?

There should be no restrictions on what you write or record, it is your diary. However, as a general guide to get started:

Try to make a reading of your inner experience, everything that you feel at certain moments in your life. Why did I feel so much anger yesterday when I was with this person? How do I know that I am happy? What are the bodily signs that allow me to know that I am anxious?

These kinds of questions can help you think about how you are feeling. This will in turn relate to your goals and what, for you, generates a high sense of motivation. For example, meeting a new person might create a sense of well-being. Why does it feel good to meet some people, but not others?

Do you allow yourself to feel sad sometimes? What do you do to perk up? These questions are connected to how you regulate your own emotions. When recorded, they will help you understand how your emotions work and what might need to be improved. It is also a way to begin practicing acceptance and compassion in the face of that which cannot be easily changed.

Practicing gratitude

In your mindfulness diary, consider including your appreciation for everything you have, what other people give you, the places you frequent, the food you eat, the people who treat you kindly and the opportunities to learn from your mistakes.

Gratitude is a fundamental element of mindfulness. life is not just about receiving things. There are also a lot of things we should be grateful for, and people we should be grateful to and this should be kept in mind, not treated as routine.

When you go back through your diary, you’ll remember everything previously recorded which often creates a very positive feeling. The Mindfulness Diary aims to remind us of those parts of ourselves that we may sometimes forget.

Practice being more aware of the way you think

Do we each have a habitual way of thinking and interpreting what happens? Of course, there are some general tendencies which we all share, but there are also many elements specific to each of us.

For some, daily frustrations can be interpreted as an affront to life, “why does this only happen to me?” is a common question. When we don’t reflect on our thought patterns, and on the fact that they may be different (and probably are) from those of other people, we can have an intense sense of defeat and can even feel that we are alone in the world.

Through the diary, we can read the environment around us, its characteristics and how it differs from other people’s. “Does everyone live under so much stress?” “Does everyone feel so empty on a Thursday afternoon?” When we do this, we are reading ourselves and through the diary we can get to know crucial aspects that influence us in some subtle way.

What is my role in relation to others?

You can also write down anything you find interesting about the way you behave when you are with other people. “How do I behave when I feel comfortable with the people around me?”, “Can I feel comfortable easily?”, “Do I prefer small or large groups of people?” “What is my role in my different social circles?”

Register your intentions

Another option to include is everything that can be classified as a plan, intention, desire or interest. It might be useful, after keeping the record for a few months, to go back and look at your previous thoughts. Are they the same? Have any of them changed radically? Can you believe you had that goal in the past?

Conclusion

A mindfulness diary is a useful tool when practicing mindfulness. It helps identify the nature of your relationship with others and even with oneself. Through such a diary, you can keep track of thoughts which will promote self-awareness and allow for personal growth.

The Mind Call service can be accessed at any time by telephone, email, Live Chat or WhatsApp with details available at www.mindcall.org.


10 January 2022

North P&I brings festive cheer to sailors

SAILORS who may be thousands of miles away from their families this Christmas have received gifts from a grateful Tyneside company.

Marine insurer North P&I Club has sent more than 100 festive packages to sailors aboard ships visiting the North East this Christmas in partnership with seafarer charity Stella Maris.

The first consignment of gifts was delivered to sailors on the Arklow Manor, a cargo ship berthed at Blyth, by Stella Maris’ Paul Atkinson and North’s Alex Farrier.

It’s part of annual tradition by North as part of its efforts to support seafarers around the world.

Belinda Ward, director (Claims), said: “Sailors work extremely hard throughout the year – often without seeing their families and loved ones for extended periods of time. This doesn’t stop at Christmas – a time when many of us are together with friends and families, enjoying the festivities.

“We’re delighted to play this small part in bringing some festive cheer aboard ships visiting the North East over the Christmas holidays.”

About 90 per cent of world trade is transported by ship – including Christmas gifts and food – and sailors often spend up to 12 months on a ship.

The shoeboxes include gifts and tasty treats, as well as some practical items, such as toiletries and warm clothing, that are often hard to get hold of while out at sea.

The Mind Call service can be accessed at any time by telephone, email, Live Chat or WhatsApp with details available at www.mindcall.org.


9 September 2020

MIND MATTERS LAUNCHES NEW FOCUS ON ISOLATION

Despite the continuing threat that COVID-19 poses worldwide, we are now getting used to our “new normal” and what exactly that will mean for us all.  For seafarers, there continues to be challenges in embarking and disembarking ships, either when beginning a new contract on board or when returning home following completion of a contract.

It is no surprise that seafarers can feel isolated during these very uncertain and challenging times.  This could be isolation from their family at home or from their colleagues on board.  This continuing uncertainty can sometimes have an overwhelming impact on seafarers and their mental health whilst they continue to carry out their vital role in keeping world trade moving.

Over the coming 6 months, North and the Mind Matters initiative will focus on isolation and consider how this impacts seafarers.  We will explore isolation and what it means, how it can affect seafarers and what can be done to combat it.

The Mind Call service can be accessed at any time by telephone, email, Live Chat or WhatsApp with details available at www.mindcall.org.


11 June 2020

North’s Mind Call service is now available through WhatsApp

We must not forget about the potential effects on a seafarer’s mental health during this pandemic therefore to assist seafarers during this time, North’s Mind Call service is now available through WhatsApp.

The helpline, provided to seafarers in partnership with ISWAN, is a free, confidential and dedicated emotional support helpline for seafarers on North entered vessels. The helpline is available to contact 24 hours a day. 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

The Mind Call team speaks Arabic, Chinese, French, Hindi, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog as well as English and you can request a call back, use live chat, WhatsApp or send an email.

For more information, please visit www.mindcall.org


30 April 2020

COVID-19: THANK YOU TO OUR SEAFARERS & THE ROLE THEY PLAY

The Coronavirus crisis continues to have a crippling impact on the global economy, with over 4.6 billion people under some form of ‘lock down’ around the world. ‘Key workers’ are doing all they can to keep society going, but it is easy for most of us to forget about the workers that we don’t see in our day to day lives or on the news. 

But given the fact that around 90% of global trade is carried by sea, and much of the food on our supermarket shelves and medicines in our pharmacies has, in one way or another, been transported onboard a ship, there is no doubt that seafarers should be considered as ‘key workers’ in line with others such as delivery drivers or supermarket employees.

The UK government has been the first to acknowledge seafarers as such, but unfortunately many other governments around the world have been slow to follow suit, leaving many seafarers stranded aboard vessels, many thousands of miles from home. This is despite pleas from the shipping industry and IMO.

Seafarers’ health and wellbeing is as important as anyone else’s during these uncertain times, and the issues that the virus is now causing with crew changes and their repatriation, many of whom have been at sea for as long as 8-9 months, can have a disastrous effect on their mental health. This is compounded by the reality that many of their loved ones are facing self-isolation and potential risk of infection themselves.

North has a range of resources available to seafarers to help with their wellbeing which are available on this website: Mental Health Issues, Keeping Well and Where To Find Help.

To access the Mind Cal Helpline which is available 24 hours per day, please visit: www.mindcall.org


1 April 2020

CORONAVIRUS – THE IMPACT ON CREW

There are very few countries that have not been impacted by COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the Coronavirus. Likewise, there will be very few seafarers whose jobs and lives have not been affected by this pandemic.

The physical effects on the body are well-documented. Many of us might becomeinfected without ever knowing, some will experience mild symptoms of fever, shortness of breath and a persistent cough, but serious cases can lead to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which can be fatal.

While many countries are on ‘lock-down’, shutting down all but essential services, ships continue to trade. Often forgotten, seafarers provide a vital service in these difficult and unprecedented times.

Therefore, we must not forget about the potential effects on a seafarer’s mental health.

Effect on crew mental health

Seafarers are under pressure. Contract lengths are being extended as a result of most affected countries placing restrictions on crew changes and reduced flights.This is in addition to ports banning shore leave, leaving crew with the prospect ofspending weeks, if not months, without being able to step foot off the ship.

It’s not just the seafarer’s life on board that is being affected. As the number of infection cases and deaths rise around the world, a crewmember might, very understandably, be worried about the health of his or her family back home.

Mind Matters

We recognise that the good mental health and wellbeing of seafarers is as important as their physical health, each often having an impact on the other. Our “Mind Matters” initiative was launched in 2018 and it’s as important as ever. The mental welfare of seafarers is just as important as their physical wellbeing.

Life at sea can be stressful. Long periods away from family, long hours, and limited social time. Add to that the sometimes-pressured work environment, bad news from home or a traumatic incident on-board and it’s easy to see why seafarers can become stressed, anxious or depressed.

MY MIND MATTERS

My Mind Matters is a website available directly for the benefit of crew providing information and resources for the emotional welfare of seafarers and covers potential causes of mental health problems, how to keep well and where to get help. The top tips, articles and materials available will be regularly updated and added to:

www.mymindmatters.club

MIND CALL HELPLINE

If you are feeling depressed, lonely or unhappy and would like someone to talk to, it can be difficult whilst at sea.

Mind Call is a free, confidential and dedicated emotional support helpline for seafarers on North entered vessels. The helpline is being provided to seafarers inpartnership with seafarer’s charity, ISWAN.

The helpline is available to contact 24 hours a day. 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

The Mind Call team speaks Arabic, Chinese, French, Hindi, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog as well as English and you can request a call back, use live chat or send an email instead.

Further details can be obtained at the Mind Call dedicated website

- www.mindcall.org.


19 December 2019

North East Business Delivers Festive Cheer to Sailors

Sailors who could be feeling lonely at sea over the Christmas period have received festive packages from a local North East business.

Leading marine insurer, North P&I has partnered with seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) to donate more than 100 shoeboxes to sailors visiting the Port of Tyne this December.

The shoeboxes include gifts and tasty treats, as well as some practical items, such as toiletries and warm clothing, that are often hard to get hold of while out at sea.

Holly Hughes, Claims Executive of North said: “For many of us, the Christmas break is filled with family, fun and festivity, however for those working on ships, it can often be a lonely and isolated time of year.

“Around 90 per cent of world trade is transported by ship and sailors may spend up to 12 months at a time on board, separated from their family and loved ones.

“We therefore think it is important to remember those seafarers who are away from home and our Christmas shoeboxes are a small token of appreciation to let them know that they are being thought of and to hopefully bring some much-needed festive cheer.”

Paul Atkinson, AoS port chaplain for Blyth & Tyne said “Our sailors work tirelessly to bring us food, fuel and supplies throughout the year, however they are often forgotten about over the festive period.

“It’s great then that companies such as North can provide us with kind donations, such as the Christmas shoeboxes, that will make such a difference to those working offshore.”

The Apostleship of the Sea is a Catholic charity supporting seafarers worldwide. Replying wholly on voluntary contributions, the charity provides practical and pastoral care to those working offshore across the UK.


January 2019

Over the Christmas period many seafarers are unable to be at home with their loved ones whilst they play unofficial Santa delivering goods all around the world on their vessels. As a ‘thank you’, North donated 67 shoeboxes full of gifts to the Apostleship of the Sea’s Christmas Shoebox Appeal for distribution to vessels around the UK.

Seafarers work away throughout the year to deliver our everyday essentials - and over the festive season they also deliver anticipation, smiles and joy with the potential Christmas presents they carry. The donated shoeboxes, containing small gifts such as toiletries and chocolates are a token of our thanks in appreciation of all of their hard work.

We were fortunate enough to deliver some of the shoeboxes to the crew of a vessel calling into the Port of Blyth which were very happily received by the seafarers on board.


North was a main sponsor at the inaugural Seafarers' Awards Dinner held in Singapore

The Mission to Seafarers presented awards to seafarers and operational staff within the maritime industry in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the welfare of others. The Awards were presented at Seafarers’ Awards Dinner on 11 May 2018 at the InterContinental Hotel, Singapore.

At the inaugural event sponsored by Shell, BHP, The China Navigation Company and North P&I Club, five awards were presented:

  • The seafarer who had contributed significantly to the welfare of fellow crew on-board
  • The seafarer who had contributed significantly to crew welfare within their organisation
  • The shore-based employee who had made a significant contribution to seafarers’ welfare
  • The company which had made a signification contribution to seafarers’ welfare
  • Secretary General’s special award for outstanding service to seafarers

An eminent team of judges was selected and chaired by Rev Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General of the Mission.

Over 200 people attended the dinner and enjoyed a drinks reception followed by a three-course meal. All proceeds will go towards supporting the Mission’s work in the port of Singapore, including ship visits and seafarers’ centres pictured).

In 2017, the Mission visited over 1,500 seafarers in the port of Singapore and provided facilities for over 3,800 seafarers at its Singapore seafarers’ centres. In total, the Mission visited over 300,000 seafarers aboard ships across the globe and supported 895 justice and welfare cases.