Each year we choose a fresh theme for Seafarers Awareness Week.
In 2020, Seafarers Awareness Week successfully highlighted the challenges faced by merchant seafarers and their families as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We also focused on the sensitive issue of seafarers’ suicides.
Merchant seafarers and their families have confronted unique difficulties during the current crew change crisis. Thousands of seafarers have been stranded on-board vessels, unable to get home. Many more have been stuck at home, unpaid, unable to join ships to start work.
Seafarers’ families are used to separation, but thousands of crew are months over their contracts, and still stuck many miles from home – intensifying the normal struggles endured by a seafaring life. Families face uncertain times as they worry about managing their household finances, and the health of their seafarer, many of whom are lacking access to communications. Some seafarers are isolated on board, and families are worrying about their seafarer’s welfare.
Seafarers Centres in ports across the world, which provide respite and communications, have been shut, and Ship Visitors who offer a friendly face have been unable to go on-board. For those seafarers stuck at sea it’s a miserable time. The challenges of ‘lockdown’ and restricted movement mean that many are still waiting to repatriate after many months away from their families.
For others the reduction in global shipping and cruise industry has led to an uncertain future. Seafarers often move from one employment contract to the next. Many are unsure when they will next find work.
Please support the world’s seafarers, who continue to work tirelessly on the frontline of the global supply chain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Donate online.
Seafarers UK was formed as King George’s Fund for Sailors in 1917, so we have a long history of helping all who work at sea. COVID-19 is our biggest challenge since the Second World War, and we’ve released £2 million of additional funds to tackle the specific challenges brought about by the pandemic.