The National Maritime Museum is partnering with the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and Mission to Seafarers, to record oral histories of seafarers who have been unable to dock in ports across the globe because of the COVID-19 pandemic and now face difficulties accessing vaccines.
The plight of seafarers has recently been addressed in the Neptune Declaration. Over 700 organisations, including the ITF and the ITF Seafarers’ Trust have signed the declaration, calling for an international commitment to resolving the crew change crisis as soon as possible and building a more resilient maritime supply chain. The National Maritime Museum will be signing the Neptune Declaration on Monday 15 March as part of its commitment to supporting the maritime sector and seafarers today.
Katie Higginbottom, Head of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, said ‘We’re delighted to support the National Maritime Museum Greenwich in this worthy endeavour. Our friends from the maritime unions around the world all know about Greenwich and were excited to participate in making the collection truly representative of today’s seafarers.
The stories of seafarers are too often unheard. Working with ITF Seafarers’ Trust and Mission to Seafarers, testimony from across the globe will be recorded and enter the permanent collection at the National Maritime Museum, so future generations can also learn, study and understand the impact of this pandemic on the global maritime sector.
This subject is also raised in the exhibition Exposure: Lives at Sea, a contemporary photography exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, displaying the myriad ways people interact with the sea. One of the photographers, Cezar Gabriel, spent an additional three months at sea in 2020, unable to dock in Brazil due to the coronavirus pandemic. The free exhibition will reopen when the Museum opens later this year.
Union representatives affiliated with ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) will receive online training on best practice for gathering oral histories before collecting the experiences of seafarers during coronavirus from their local communities in The Philippines, Indonesia, Ukraine, Hong Kong and India.
Chaplains associated with the Mission to Seafarers will also be trained once lockdown restrictions are lifted to record the stories of seafarers from across the globe who play a vital role in bringing essential goods into UK port.
Laura Boon, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Public Curator: Contemporary Maritime at Royal Museums Greenwich, said ‘Seafarers continue to be deeply impacted by the pandemic, it is vital that we capture their experiences now – both to raise awareness and act as a record for the future’.
Notes to editors
- The ITF Seafarers’ Trust, a UK charity established in 1981, funds programmes that advance the wellbeing of maritime workers, seafarers and their families. We are funded by the Trust’s own capital funds, and by the investment income of the Welfare Fund of the International Transport Workers Federation, a global federation of nearly 700 transport workers’ unions the voice of nearly 20 million workers across the world.
The ITF Seafarers’ Trust vision is to be the leader in promoting and improving the wellbeing of seafarers worldwide. We envisage a world where all seafarers are healthy, happy and have decent work.
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- The National Maritime Museum holds the world’s largest maritime collection, housed in historic buildings forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. The National Maritime Museum is part of Royal Museums Greenwich which also incorporates the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the 17th-century Queen’s House and clipper ship Cutty Sark. This unique collection of museums and heritage buildings, which form a key part of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, welcomes over two and a half million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research. The mission of Royal Museums Greenwich is to enrich people’s understanding of the sea, the exploration of space, and Britain's role in world history. For more information visit www.rmg.co.uk.
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