Plea not to forget seafarers’ families on Day of the Seafarer

A public plea has been made by the welfare charity Seafarers UK to not forget seafarers’ families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, as the International Maritime Organization makes a call for seafarers worldwide to be recognised as key workers.

Hundreds of thousands of seafarers are currently stranded on merchant ships worldwide, with crew changes curtailed due to restrictions imposed by governments. Many have been compelled to work beyond their contract end dates, with shore access denied at most ports on global trade routes.

As a result, seafarers’ medical conditions are going untreated, pastoral and other visits by Port Chaplains and welfare workers are banned, and access to free communications is infrequent.

The stresses on seafarers are matched by those experienced by their families.

Catherine Spencer, Seafarers UK’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Seafarers are unable to travel home for family occasions, including births and funerals. In many countries, the spread of COVID-19 has had a direct impact on seafarers’ families, exacerbated by punitive lockdown restrictions affecting the health and wellbeing of seafarers’ relations.”

With very few opportunities for frontline practical support to be provided, Seafarers UK is funding vital information services, including Seafarer Help, a confidential, multilingual, free helpline for seafarers and their families that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

Seafarers UK has launched a COVID-19 Emergency Appeal for donations to support the charity’s increased funding of essential services for seafarers and their families – see www.seafarers.uk/covid-19-emergency-appeal/  for more details.