Dedicated helpline launched for Indian seafarers

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A 24-hour helpline dedicated to assisting Indian seafarers has been launched by Sailors’ Society, following a notable increase in calls during the COVID-19 crisis.

Sailors Welfare Association, an affiliate of international maritime welfare charity Sailors’ Society, has launched the India helpline to support seafarers and their families through the current pandemic.

Many of the desperate seafarers have lost incomes or are anxious and struggling to cope.

Staffed by a team of professional psychologists, chaplains, maritime lawyers and social workers, the confidential helpline is available free-of-charge for seafarers and their families to call and receive advice about any worries they might have.

Gavin Lim, Sailors’ Society’s Regional Manager – Asia, said: “Seafarers and their family members can call us about anything at all; we’re here to help with whatever they need. We know many seafarers are under huge pressure right now and so we’re really pleased to be able offer this new service. The helpline team is highly skilled and well-placed to provide support and guidance to anyone in need of help.”

It is estimated that 210,000 of the world’s merchant seafarers come from India. Travel and crew change restrictions have meant that many seafarers are on extended contracts, unsure when they will sign-off or unable to return home. Others have been unable to start contracts due to lockdowns and have had their incomes decimated as a result.

Manoj Joy, Managing Director of Sailors Welfare Association, said: “Providing seafarers access to front-line support will empower them to help themselves. Our expert team and strong links with local and national welfare services means we are well equipped to advise and, if necessary, sign-post seafarers to additional support in their hour of crisis.”

The helpline team can offer advice in a variety of languages including Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Telugu, Bengali and Malayalam. Anyone in need of assistance can call the helpline on 022-48972266. All calls to the helpline are strictly confidential.