Emergency Christmas Appeal

An estimated 400,000 seafarers remain stranded at sea. The seafaring community continues to need urgent help to get through the COVID-19 crisis.

2020 was a very difficult and challenging year for many of us, but the impact of the pandemic has hit the seafaring community especially hard. As we start the new year and additional lockdowns, the crisis is far from over.

Seafarers can’t work from home.

Thousands of seafarers continue to be thousands of miles away from home. Many seafarers working on merchant ships have now been stuck at sea or in ports for more than 12 months. They’re unable to get home due to travel restrictions, trapped on board due to bans on shore-leave, or stranded because crew change-overs simply haven’t been possible. They feel like prisoners.

At the current time, an estimated 400,000 seafarers are stranded at sea globally.

The situation has become increasingly desperate. In addition to the isolation and uncertainty they feel, many stranded seafarers haven’t been paid for months because their fixed-term contracts have expired. We have heard from seafarers who have been abandoned in foreign ports, without money or food – and feeling desperately anxious because they can’t send money home to feed their families.

This cruel and unfair situation has had a devastating impact on many seafarers’ mental wellbeing. Seafarers are struggling with money worries, loneliness, anxiety and depression – at a time when they’re also extremely concerned about their loved ones back at home. We’re sorry to say that we have received reports of increased numbers of suicides amongst seafarers during 2020.

Our unseen key workers.

Seafarers silently play a crucial role in keeping the UK supplied with food, medicines, fuel and other essential goods. They bring in over 90% of our imports, so without them we’d be facing empty shelves in our shops and supermarkets. As I’m sure you agree, it’s important that we recognise the vital role they play and to support them in their time of need.

How your support will help our key workers

Seafarers UK is a leading maritime charity which has been supporting seafarers since 1917. We work with charity partners across the sector providing essential support for seafarers in need and their families.

£28 will help provide a month’s free Mi-Fi enabling communication with loved ones

Your generous gift of £28 could help to fund a month’s of free Mi-Fi onboard one ship.

During the pandemic, the need for communication with family and loved ones has been even greater than usual. Stranded seafarers were left with no means to communicate with loved ones onboard and not allowed to leave their vessels to access free internet via seafarer centres. The Mi-Fi support is a life-line.

Your support also helps us provide mobile phone top-ups or extra Internet data, enabling seafarers to get in touch with their loved ones when they’re in port.

£100 will help fund a chat with a Chaplain service for a day

An extra special gift could help to fund the new chat with a Chaplain online service for a day. With computers staffed around the clock by chaplains across the world, the service offers seafarers the chance to talk through emotional and financial problems. Chaplains can offer a listening ear and practical advice, often directing seafarers to appropriate support services.

To date, the Chat to a Chaplain service provided support to 1,215 seafarers with chaplains responding to 472 requests for assistance. Chat to a Chaplain provides a global safety net, 24/7, to seafarers and their families during uncertain times.

Your donation will help us give seafarers and their families somewhere to turn to for support at a time of crisis.

How to donate

Please note that due to restrictions imposed by COVID-19 on the way our charity operates, it currently takes 2-3 weeks for us to process your postal donations. We therefore encourage you to make donations online or by text.

Any donation, no matter how small, will make a real difference to seafarers in need and their families.


You can make a donation online using our simple and secure online payment form.


  • CHRISTMASAPPEAL 3 to 70490 to donate £3
  • CHRISTMASAPPEAL 5 to 70490 to donate £5
  • CHRISTMASAPPEAL 10 to 70490 to donate £10

*We understand this might be a financially difficult time for many of our supporters. We are therefore extremely grateful for any donation you can give, no matter how small, and we’re truly grateful for your ongoing support.

An estimated 400,000 seafarers remain stranded at sea.

The seafaring community continues to need urgent help to get through the COVID-19 crisis.

Make a donation