Care packs for crew stuck on their ships
Special care packages are being delivered to sailors visiting Timaru’s port who are unable to come ashore because of Covid-19 restrictions.
The initiative, which has been going for a couple of weeks, began after South Canterbury seafarers’ welfare committee president John Blunden heard of a similar scheme in Lyttelton. Covid-19 restrictions mean crews arriving in New Zealand have to self-isolate for 14 days but as many of the ships are in a port for only a couple of days, the sailors are confined to their ships.
Blunden said he was not sure how long they could keep up with demand for the packages. ‘‘We have had some donations but the majority of it we have paid for ourselves. That said, I have been delighted with how the local companies have offered to help,’’ he said. ‘‘I called up Heartland Chips and they said ‘come out here’ and offered us a pallet of chips.’’
Blunden was also pleased a year 11 class at Roncalli College had raised $260. The students have also baked muffins. ‘‘We had a social justice unit and we felt it would be a good idea to support the ship’s crew,’’ student April Manson said.
So far, Blunden said, his group had made care packages for about half a dozen ships. The ‘‘boxed up’’ packages were not for individual sailors but went to the cooks who distributed to individual crew things like the chips (Heartland Chips), yoghurt (Linton Distributors), drink, lollies, apples, kiwifruit, oranges.
‘‘It is something they would not get every day.’’ The crew members were ‘‘absolutely rapt’’, Blunden said.
The committee has also set up two wi-fi internet hot spots for sailors.
‘‘Ten or 20 years ago, if the crew members wanted to call home they would have had to have hooked up a phone and pay ridiculous prices for it. Now they can do it all for free.’’
Blunden said the ships, such as log and chemical carriers, normally had 20-24 mainly Filipino, Chinese, Korean and Myanmar crew, and with Covid19 restrictions, many had been stuck on board longer than they would have hoped.
South Canterbury seafarers’ welfare committee president John Blunden with some of the muffins baked by Roncalli College students.