A free, 24-hour helpline for seafarers and their families was launched by UK-based maritime welfare charity Sailors’ Society.
The confidential service offers support and welfare to those worried or adversely affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Seafarers can also access a suite of practical resources produced by Sailors’ Society including an advice hub, Facebook support group and podcasts. The charity also launched a GBP2 million COVID-19 emergency fund to help seafarers and their families whose incomes have been decimated through loss of work.
In spite of widespread enforcement of lockdowns, the charity has maintained a continued service by offering virtual chaplaincy and welfare support, with physical ship visits only taking place where regulations allow.
Sandra Welch, COO at Sailors’ Society said: “We’ve seen an increase in calls for help and advice of late and there’s a lot of uncertainty, so our new dedicated COVID-19 helpline is a welcome addition to our services.
“Many seafarers don’t know when they will sign-off and return home, others haven’t been able to start contracts due to lockdowns. They are worried about losing their income and anxious about loved ones – the toll on their mental health is apparent,” she continued.
The helpline was established following the charity’s COVID-19 emergency appeal, which welcomed donations from hundreds of individual supporters in addition to those received from companies, including generous contributions from North P&I, Trinity House and West P&I.