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In its sixth year of operation, an up-and-coming British container port has turned its attention from building the business to supporting visiting seafarers. Sarah Robinson reports
There's a warmer welcome this year for crews visiting DP World London Gateway on the Thames Estuary, thanks to the opening of a bright new seafarer centre.
A rather spartan old common room at the container port has had a £10,000 upgrade to become an appealing facility where seafarers can have a proper break from their vessels – even if they're only in port for a short time.
Amenities include free wi-fi, a television, a pool table, comfortable seating and a vending machine to re-stock essentials such as phone cards and toiletries. Visitors are welcome to help themselves to woolly hats and scarves knitted for them by volunteers, and can read a good selection of magazines, including of course the Nautilus Telegraph.
The funding for the upgrade has come from the port's owner DP World, and the facility is managed by the Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest (QVSR) as a sister facility to its popular seafarer centre in nearby Tilbury.
Good welfare facilities in a port can help break down some of those feelings of isolation and loneliness that seafarers may experience