Charity worker Simon Mobsby is delivering Christmas cheer to hundreds of cruise staff locked down off the UK coast.
With cruises cancelled due to coronavirus, huge cruise ships anchored off the UK coast have become a familiar sight since the crisis hit in March. Several ships, manned by skeleton crews of around 150, regularly come into Southampton port for supplies and maintenance, but the crews are restricted to a small area of the port because of coronavirus.
International maritime charity Sailors’ Society has stepped in to support the crews, inviting them to get their online shopping and post delivered to its Southampton seafarer centre and bringing it to the ships when they come into port.
Centre manager Simon delivered more than 200 parcels last month to grateful seafarers and makes trips to the supermarket for them if they need anything else. He’s expecting the demand to be greater as Christmas approaches.
“They have no access to the outside world at all, so I do it on their behalf,” he says.
“Their faces light up when I bring them letters and gifts from family and friends. It’s a privilege to be able to play Santa.”
The charity is also wrapping its own Christmas gifts for the crews, most of whom have been on the ships since before coronavirus hit in March. And Simon is even delivering gifts from one cruise ship to the other.
“People who worked together in the past are now on different ships and they’ve not been able to see each other for nine months,” he says.
“One crew sent a gift order to me on WhatsApp and I delivered the presents to the other ship. When I explained who they were from, they were over the moon.”
Sailors’ Society has received donations of gifts for seafarers from its supporters, as well as a grant from the International Transport Workers’ Federation/ International Christian Maritime Association to provide small Christmas parcels in a selection of additional ports.