Friday, December 4, 2020

Maritime Charity Opens Fund for Covid Affected Seafarers to Fight Financial Hardship

Relationship Problems and Mental Stress Also Addressed
Shipping News Feature

UK – The charity Seafarers UK has launched the UK Maritime Anchor Fund to support working age UK National merchant seafarers, impacted by Covid-19. The fund, created with key delivery partner charities, aims to provide an end-to-end package of support for seafarers experiencing financial hardship due to Covid-19 related loss of work or disruption of employment opportunities.

Up to £200,000 has been allocated from Seafarers UK’s Covid-19 Emergency Fund, to support UK merchant seafarers, of working age, through the new UK focused fund, which can be accessed via Seafarers’ Advice and Information Line (SAIL).

Seafarers UK has collaborated widely to set up the fund, working with Maritime Welfare Charities - SAIL, Seafarers Hospital Society and Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society as well as Relate and employed a wide range of methods to reach out to merchant seafarers, including, Nautilus International, the RMT Union, Maritime UK and UK Chamber of Shipping and their members and Seafarers’ Support (the maritime charities online welfare guide) to ensure that the fund is well publicised.

The UK Maritime Anchor Fund addresses financial difficulties and their impact which can include strained personal relationships and impact mental health. Merchant seafarers can apply to the Fund if experiencing hardship caused by Covid-19. This may arise from redundancy, difficulties renewing contracts, problems joining a ship due to travel restrictions, reduced earnings or Covid-19 related illness.

Grants are available to cover a significant reduction in income, top-up of Universal Credit and payment of priority debts relating to mortgage or rent, council tax and arrears, etc. The grant is just one part of a wide range of support which will enable a return to stability and financial resilience. It includes:

  • Confidential personal advice on financial matters such as budgeting, income maximisation and access to eligible welfare benefits - provided by SAIL
  • Advice and help to tackle other related problems such as debt, tax and housing issues - provided by SAIL
  • Up to six sessions of free relationship counselling (referrals will be made by SAIL to Relate)
  • Mental health and wellbeing support and counselling - provided by TogetherAll and funded by Seafarers’ Hospital Society

UK merchant seafarers needing help should contact SAIL. SAIL is a Citizens Advice service for seafarers and their families. SAIL supports seafarers by phone, email and face-to-face appointments via Skype and Zoom. SAIL can be contacted by phone on 0800 160 1842 or email

SAIL will assess entitlement for welfare benefits, and other needs. Where appropriate SAIL will make a grant application to Seafarers’ Hospital Society for financial support. The process has been refined to be as straightforward as possible to reduce admin and stress to applicants.

The fund is open to any working age, UK national seafarer experiencing hardship because of financial problems caused by Covid-19 regardless of rank or length of service. Anyone in this category facing challenges because of Covid-19 is encouraged to contact SAIL to discuss their situation confidentially, whether the challenge is relationship difficulties or problems paying priority debts, the Fund will address a wide range of problems. Seafarers UK’s Chief Executive Officer, Catherine Spencer said:

“Seafarers UK works in the UK and world-wide to support seafarers. We’re pleased to offer help to UK seafarers through the UK Maritime Anchor Fund and encourage UK seafarers to call SAIL to discuss how the fund can help. This new fund is a great illustration of how our new strategy will get to the heart of issues to provide meaningful help for seafarers.”

Seafarers UK announced the £2 million Covid-19 Emergency Fund earlier this year. The UK Maritime Anchor Fund has been developed from this fund to specifically assist UK nationals employed as professional seafarers.

Seafarers UK also fund the International Seafarers’ Welfare Assistance Network (ISWAN) to provide an Emergency Fund for international seafarers as well Seafarer Help, a free 24-hour multilingual helpline. Sandra Welch, CEO at Seafarers Hospital Society said:

“We’re delighted to be involved in this important initiative. We want merchant seafarers to know that support is out there for them and their families. It’s not just about money, this is a holistic approach that addresses their wellbeing as well as their welfare needs.”

Seafarers UK says it will launch a new strategy in early 2021, The UK Maritime Anchor Fund aligns with Seafarers UK's new strategic outcome to enhance the financial resilience of seafarers, which forms part of the new strategy.