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National Maritime Museum Signs The Neptune Declaration And Announces Project To Capture Oral Histories Of People Stranded At Sea During The Pandemic

The National Maritime Museum is supporting seafarers who have been impacted by the pandemic through partnerships with two leading maritime welfare organisations, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and The 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 with Ince as a founding partner of a charity single, to be released in June.

The plight of seafarers has recently been addressed in the Neptune Declaration. Over 700 organisations 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. Although the UK has recognised seafarers as key workers, those at sea still face hardship with access to ports and vaccines.
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.

The stories of seafarers are too often unheard. Working with ITF Seafarers’ Trust and The 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 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 ports.

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’.

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 we’re excited to participate in making the collection truly representative of today’s seafarers.’

Royal Museums Greenwich is also supporting Ince with the release of a charity single on the International Day of the Seafarer, Friday 25 June 2021. The cover of Rod Stewart’s ‘Sailing’ will be recorded by seafarers and the wider maritime community across the world, raising money for Stella Maris, Sailors’ Society, Seafarers UK and The Mission to Seafarers to provide ongoing support, including access to vaccines, for those stranded at sea during the pandemic. From Thursday 18 March, seafarers who are interested in being involved in this project can get in touch at [email protected]

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.

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.

Facebook @ITFtrust
Twitter @Seafarers_Trust

The Mission to Seafarers provides help and support to the 1.5 million men and women who face danger every day to keep or global economy afloat. The Mission to Seafarers works in over 200 ports in 50 countries caring for seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs. Through its global network of chaplains, staff and volunteers, The Mission to Seafarers offers practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers through ship visits, drop-in seafarers’ centres and a range of welfare emergency support services.
Source: National Maritime Museum

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