Tim Bell

Tim Bell is the chaplain of the Port of Leith, and is funded by the Sailors’ Society and Leith Churches Together.

Tim Bell, Port of Leith Chaplain

Tim Bell, Port of Leith Chaplain

Tim (who describes himself as ‘a landlubberly native of Northumberland’) has lived in Leith for 30 years with his family and is an elder in the Church of Scotland. He was a social worker and teacher before gaining a Bachelor of Divinity in 1994 and worked as a prison chaplain before moving to the docks in 2005.  He writes, ‘On the ships it is a privilege to meet so many dignified men who are working hard to support their families in some of the poorest countries in the world’.

Ship Visitors’ Scheme.  During the summer of 2010, Tim initiated a Ship Visitors scheme, coordinating a team of volunteers from some of the churches in Leith to visit the cruise liners who dock in Leith over the summer.  The crews of these ships are often on board for long periods with little chance to go ashore, and the visitors offer a friendly word, and any practical help they can.  Training is given by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board.  The scheme is ecumenical, with active involvement from the chaplains of two other seafarers’ organisations, the Apostleship of the Sea (Roman Catholic) and the Mission to Seafarers (Anglican).  Besides visiting the ships, the team was able to set up a small help point in the Terminal building, where seafarers could access their services on their way on or off the ship.

The scheme has continued its work since, with a growing number of volunteers from across the denominations (Roman Catholic, Church of Scotland, URC and Episcopal), and building on the experience gained in 2010.   In 2012, ship visiting also took place in Rosyth and Grangemouth, mostly thanks to new volunteers recruited through the Mission to Seafarers.  The team has been further expanded in 2014.

Tim is very happy to give talks and presentations about his work.  He can be contacted at tbell@sailors-society.org, or phone 0131 555 2500.

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