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Christian charity launches Philippines support network

by Hannah Tooley

It is estimated that 37 per cent of seafarers come from the Far East and the Mission estimates that up to a million seafarers are registered in the state of the Philippines alone.

Revd Canon Stephen Miller, Director of East Asia at Mission to Seafarers, is jointly behind the project with The Independent Church in the Philippines (IFI).

The new network will focus on improving support for seafarers' families over a range of services including counselling, advocacy, medical advice, IT support and financial guidance.

The IFI will provide volunteer support from parishes locally and is considering setting up a local church-led credit union for seafarers.

Revd Miller said: "This is a very exciting development for Mission to Seafarers, and we have now opened a facility in Manila which is the central location for the main seafaring and crewing agencies for the world's merchant fleet.

"Although these are very early days, the project has been designed to achieve deliverable outcomes in the short and medium term with the possibility of expanding it through the northern and southern areas of the Philippines.

"We have partnered with our friends in the local IFI church to ensure that we can provide real outreach support which will have positive outcomes for families.

"Life at sea continues to be a real challenge, especially for ratings on low pay and long contracts away from their loved ones.

"By providing a Mission in the Philippines alongside our close ecumenical colleagues the IFI, it will encourage and hearten many seafarers to know that there is now a dedicated network to support their families back where they call home."

The IFI and The Mission to Seafarers held a special service to celebrate the new partnership and service at the National Cathedral in Manila earlier in the month.

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