A new charitable company, QVSR Seafarers Centres, has been set up by the Queen Victoria Seamen's Rest (QVSR), enabling it to expand its work for seafarers beyond the Port of London to other UK ports.
The launch marked a historic transfer of the seafarers centres located at the ports of Immingham, Bristol, and Felixstowe to QVSR Seafarer Centres – gifted from its ecumenical partners The Mission to Seafarers, Sailors' Society and Stella Maris.
The transfer was the culmination of a project started in 2015 and commissioned by the ecumenical partners. In 2019 QVSR took over the operations of the seafarers' centres in the Port of Tilbury and London Gateway which were previously jointly run by the ecumenical partners. It was QVSR's successful management of these set-ups that led to their partners inviting the Methodist charity – founded in London's Docklands 179 years ago – to take up this new opportunity to expand.
QVSR officially took over the operation of the new QVSR Seafarers Centres on 15 July 2022, and aims to ensure the ongoing smooth operation of the centres and their assistance to the expected 50,000 seafarers visiting these ports annually.
CEO of QVSR Seafarers Centres Alexander Campbell said: 'Underpinning the partnership between ecumenical partners and QVSR Seafarers Centres is the spirit of collaboration. Mission partners have demonstrated through this takeover that by working together we can achieve more. QVSR is humbled and encouraged by this display of faith by ecumenical partners and hopes this partnership continues to grow not just with ecumenical partners, but with other stakeholders in the maritime charity welfare sector.'
Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord, officially launched the QVSR Seafarers Centres at Trinity House in London. The launch event included a message from maritime minister Robert Courts who pledged UK government support for the sector.
As well as the newly expanded seafarers centres, QVSR also has a large mission building in the east end of London where it accommodates up to 173 men each night. The building historically offered accommodation to thousands of 19th century journeying seafarers arriving in London's Docklands, but today it accommodates retired seafarers, ex-servicemen and others in need of accommodation. Over the last decade the charity has invested £8 million upgrading all of its rooms to en-suite hotel standard accommodation.