October 10 is World Mental Health Day. It provides a platform to raise awareness and discuss mental health issues around the world with the aim of mobilizing support of mental health.
It is no surprise that humanist organisations dedicate their social services also to the support and improvement of mental health. At the beginning of this year, one of our German member organisations, Humanistische Vereinigung, launched a new project dedicated to mental health: The “Seafarer’s Social Service Oldenburg” (SSSO). It’s the first and so far only social care center for sailors at the port of Oldenburg as well as the first humanist institution of this kind in Germany. The Seafarer’s Social Service Oldenburg offers counselling services, arranges doctor’s appointments and provides practical assistance with shopping or authorities visits. But the service also offers a meeting place, including a counseling center and a café, named 50 Miles. In addition to recreation rooms with billiard tables, there are many other retreat possibilities. Also, visitors are able to have conversations with their family at home. In the so-called Room of Silence, everyone can retreat according to their faith, worldview or religion. The legal basis for the Seafarer’s Social Service Oldenburg is the International Maritime Labor Convention, which has also been signed by the Federal Republic of Germany. This provides for the establishment of seafarers’ welfare centers at all seaports.
On September 28th, Oldenburg’s mayor Jürgen Krogmann visited the premises of the Seafarer’s Club 50 Miles as part of his inaugural visit as patron of the new institution. According to Krogmann, the SSSO, which was launched on March 1, „represents a real enrichment for our port and our city. The offer of the Oldenburg regional group of the Humanistische Vereinigung closes an important gap: Seafarers can now finally find social care in accordance with the Maritime Labor Convention in our port“, Krogmann explained in his greeting note. An additional success of the SSSO from the weeks before was the installation of a free WiFi system in the port of Oldenburg. Seafarers in the port now have free Internet access and can keep in touch with their distant homeland much more easily.
„The Corona pandemic in particular has shown how necessary social care is for seafarers. For the ship’s crews, these facilities often provide the only opportunity to obtain daily necessities and socialize. But it is not only in times of crisis that seafarers need support services; with the Seafarer’s Social Service, we are also well positioned for the future“, continued the mayor of Oldenburg. The SSSO’s tasks include providing pastoral and social care for sailors. It relies on both full-time and volunteer staff. For volunteers, there is an internal training program that concludes with certification. Also on September 28, Axel Kittel, a citizen of Oldenburg and co-initiator of the SSSO, was the first volunteer to receive the certificate attesting to his special qualification.
Learn more about the Seafarer’s Social Service Oldenburg: