£1 million fund to help those working on our seas

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society has established a £1 million Covid-19 Response Fund to support merchant seafarers and fishers.

Saturday, 11th July 2020, 4:45 pm
Aid for seafarers...is usually for those who are retired or have suffered ill health but the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the society to rethink its priorities.

It will provide support to working-age seafarers facing the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund supplements the society’s existing annual grant expenditure of £1.4 million, which is predominantly focused on providing support to retired seafarers, or those suffering with health issues.

A temporary change in spending priorities, it is the biggest uplift in society spending since World War Two – reflecting the disastrous financial impact of the virus on working mariners.

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Captain Nigel Palmer, chairman of the society, said: “The financial impact of this pandemic will be with us for years to come and we have already spent significant funds helping hard-pressed families keep food on the table and ensure the lights stay on.

“Our next major challenge will be supporting those who are unable to manage the inevitable debts which will build up during the crisis, in particular helping to ensure families keep a roof over their heads as mortgage and rent holidays come to an end.”

The charity is significantly dependant on income from investments to continue its long-term work.

However, the current crisis demanded a re-assessment of the balance between existing and future need, reflecting both the significant welfare impact of the crisis, but also recognising the UK’s dependency on its maritime workforce for future prosperity.

Captain Justin Osmond, the society’s chief executive, said: “This is an important extension of our normal work but recognises the massive financial challenges facing UK seafarers, including those who are temporarily unable to work, those trapped on ships around the world and unable to get home, or those facing the prospect of redundancy.

“The society has been supporting seafarers for 181 years and has a proud tradition of responding to changing needs.

“The scale of this crisis has resulted in an important decision to dig deep, which will ensure much needed support is available to individuals whose contribution is often overlooked by UK society.”

The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society provides grants to seafarers with at least five years of sea service. For further information visit shipwreckedmariners.org.uk, email [email protected] or call 01243 787761.

If you can help support the seafaring community, visit shipwreckedmariners.org.uk/donate.