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Coronavirus ‘worst crisis for seafarers in 200 years’, says international maritime charity

Sailors’ Society says coronavirus is the worst crisis seafarers have faced in its 200-year history, with ‘overwhelming’ numbers turning to the charity for help since the pandemic began.

The charity has given out an average of 16 times more welfare grants to seafarers and their families every month since the crisis began, compared to last year. Many of these are as a direct result of seafarers being unable to work and suddenly plunged into poverty due to the pandemic.

Sailors’ Society’s coronavirus helpline is also receiving around 150 calls from seafarers a month, many of whom are stranded at sea because of travel restrictions and are struggling with exhaustion and anxiety about their families and finances.

Sara Baade, Sailors’ Society’s new CEO, said: “This is the worst crisis seafarers have faced since Sailors’ Society was founded more than 200 years ago.

“We are overwhelmed by the number of appeals for help and our crisis teams are having to prioritise the most desperate cases.”

Among the people the charity is helping is a waiter on a cruise ship who lost his job due to the pandemic in March. In the same month, his wife had a difficult birth with their son, leading to medical trauma for both mother and child. The seafarer contacted Sailors’ Society desperate for money to feed his family after spending all his savings on hospital bills.

Sailors’ Society is appealing for funds to support seafarers at this difficult time. To donate, go to www.sailors-society.org/seafarer-crisis-appeal.