Port of Tyne, one of the UK’s major deep-sea ports, has raised almost £18,000 for the benefit of seafarers visiting the River Tyne.

The Port of Tyne Welfare Fund gives shipping lines the option to pay a voluntary levy each time one of their vessels comes into Port. The optional levy is based on the vessels Gross Tonnage, and is payable on its first ten visits to the Port each calendar year. The Port of Tyne then matches the levy, contributing 50p for every £1 collected.

Steven Clapperton, Maritime Director and Harbour Master at the Port of Tyne, said: “We are delighted to have raised such a substantial amount; this will go towards supporting 40,000 seafarers that visit the Port each year.

“We recognise that the coronavirus pandemic means that these are trying times for seafarers, who are in a critical frontline role, with difficulties in securing shore leave in some other countries; delays in crew changes; pressures at home, and worries about family members. The funding from the Port of Tyne will enable local organisations to continue in their vital support of seafarers’ welfare.”

The money raised will be distributed between The Mission to Seafarers South Shields, Apostleship of the Sea, and The Fishermen’s Mission, and will support seafarers for the benefit of their mental and physical wellbeing, as well as providing emergency grants in cases of need, and facilities for the benefit of commercial fishermen. The Tyne Port Welfare Committee will remain in operation during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Dianne Erskine, Welfare Officer at The Mission to Seafarers South Shields, said: “As a charity we rely on donations; the funding from the Port of Tyne Welfare Fund will allow us some breathing space.

“We’re here to support seafarers when they need us most, and the funding from the Port will enable us to continue to deliver our services to those within our local community.”

Since introducing the levy in 2016, the Port of Tyne has raised £55,000 for the benefit of 120,000 seafarers visiting the River Tyne, making a tangible difference to local charities in Tyneside that work hard to support seafarers – who are often away from home for long periods and in need of support services.