The Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society has established a £1M COVID-19 Response Fund to provide financial support to UK merchant seafarers and fishers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The response fund has launched to coincide with Seafarers Awareness Week (6-12 July) and will provide support to working age seafarers facing the economic impact of the pandemic, supplementing the Society’s existing annual grant expenditure of £1.4m, which is predominantly focused on providing support to retired seafarers, or those suffering with health issues.
The new fund signifies a temporary change in spending priorities to reflect the disastrous financial impact on working mariners and represents the biggest uplift in Society spending since WWII.
The charity is significantly dependant on income from investments to continue its long-term work but is clear that 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 high dependency on maritime trade and its maritime workforce for future prosperity.
Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society Chairman, Capt. Nigel Palmer OBE MNM, said: “The trustees of the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society have released £1 million of new funds in recognition of the disastrous effect of COVID 19 on working seafarers in the UK.
“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 Society’s Chief Executive, Capt. Justin Osmond RN, added: “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 contact the charity’s Grants Team by emailing [email protected] or calling 01243 787761
If you can help the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society support those from the seafaring community who are suffering during this challenging time, please visit https://www.shipwreckedmariners.org.uk/donate.