Vehicle Replacement Programme
‘£1 million Maritime Charities Project Partnership Celebration’
Vehicle Replacement Programme has awarded £1 million on replacement vehicles in UK since 2007.
At a milestone event at Tilbury Seafarers’ Centre on Merchant Navy Day, 3rd September, a new Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) was handed over by the four primary UK funding charities – the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, Merchant Navy Welfare Board, Seafarers UK and Trinity House. This marked the passing of a £1 million milestone awarded to fund vehicle replacement programmes in a collaborative funding programme, launched in 2008, that has so far seen the replacement of over 90 port welfare vehicles.
With budgets constrained, seafarers’ welfare organisations are heavily reliant upon grants to remain in operation. Up until 2007, charities and welfare organisations looking to replace dilapidated or used vehicles were required to apply to one or more funders in the hope that they would receive a grant. This meant that it was difficult for both the vehicle users and funders to plan properly, sometimes meaning that vehicles remained in operation long after useful service. Most are, of course, being driven in the harsh environment of ports – five years is widely regarded as the benchmark for replacement.
The programme means that the fleet of minibuses, MPVs and cars are now well maintained and, most importantly, fit for purpose. It helps the chaplains, staff and volunteers to provide a quality of service to seafarers visiting their ports, or in some cases to provide pastoral care to those living in the vicinity. Above all, hundreds of thousands of seafarers and their dependants have benefitted from the transport provided ashore, without which visits to places such as seafarers centres, the doctors, dentists and hospitals would remain impossible.
Luca Tommasi, Project Manager of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust said: “The concept of gathering together the four major seafarers’ welfare funders to sponsor the vehicle replacement programme has proven successful. Funds have been used very efficiently and all the front line organisations operating in the UK have greatly benefited from the project. But above all, thanks to this initiative, thousands of seafarers have been provided with safe and comfortable journeys in ports around the UK.”