Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Merchant Navy Day Has a Special Importance in this Difficult Year

Charity Begins at Home for Those Who Fly the Red Duster
Shipping News Feature

UK – This year Merchant Navy Day falls on Friday September 3 and it will carry a special weight for many after a difficult year for thousands of mariners. The Seafarers’ Charity's 'Fly the Red Ensign' campaign is an annual event to celebrate the country's dependence on the seafarers who are responsible for safely shipping more than 90% of the UK’s imports.

Each year thousands of locations across the UK hoist the Red Ensign in recognition of current UK Merchant seafarers, and also to honour and remember the brave Merchant Navy personnel who served during the First and Second World Wars. Catherine Spencer, Chief Executive of The Seafarers’ Charity said:

“Merchant Navy Day is such a special day to recognise the incredibly important role of our seafarers. This year, as the impact of Covid-19 hits supply lines the public are even much more familiar with how vital shipping is to keep shelves stocked.

”Our Merchant Navy have operated through the chaos of the pandemic to keep supplies moving, building on the long and proud history of supporting the nation in times of need, just as they did during World War One and Two. We hope you will join with us in Flying the Red Ensign to support seafarers and that you will consider donating to the Merchant Navy Fund.”

This year, recognising that the Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact on Merchant Navy communities, and many continue to need urgent support, the Charity is asking people and public buildings to Fly the Red Ensign on Merchant Navy Day, 3rd September to remember the sacrifices of the often forgotten and invisible Merchant Navy community and donate to raise vital funds to help respond to the increased need for support.

The industries charities have illustrated how they can alter the lives of seafarers, impoverished or stricken with illness with tales such as that of Samuel who, at the age of 41, after six and a half years at sea, found himself without a job or a home. Growing financial pressures impacted his mental health until the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society came forward to assess his situation and provide some short-term support in the form of a few small payments to help with his living expenses. Captain Justin Osmond, Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society Chief Executive explained:

”We provide financial help to both retired and working age seafarers and their dependants who are in need. Since Covid, many have had to rely on universal credit for living costs as their income has disappeared. There’s a 4 to 6-week wait for many benefits and we help keep the lights on until they kick in.

“We mainly work with retired seafarers however we have found that Covid has driven more working-aged people to us. We have been working to support them, but the question we are asking ourselves now is, how long will the ripples that Covid has caused last?”

At the Merchant Navy Fund, administered by The Seafarers’ Charity and supported by the Merchant Navy Fund Welfare Board, helping families and individuals through times of severe hardship is at the heart of what they do. The Fund supports the efforts of organisations like the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, which offer a lifeline to working-age seafarers like Samuel who are unable to meet their financial burdens, and, for retired seafarers who are unable to get the support they need elsewhere.

President of The Seafarers’ Charity HRH The Earl of Wessex GCVO said:

“On this Merchant Navy Day, I very much hope you will support this campaign by The Seafarers’ Charity to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage, and support the future of the personnel of our Merchant Navy.”

Anyone can help support the cause and give thanks and support to those who keep the UK’s supply chains operational, no matter the difficulties. So, if you can fly a Red Ensign on 3 September, don’t forget to take a photo and email it to mnfund@theseafarerscharity.org or share on Social Media, tagging the Charity on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. Don't forget to use the hashtag #MerchantNavyDay.

A Social Media Toolkit is available HERE and, if you haven't already registered for the campaign, please register today to let the Charity know you are taking part and to receive a certificate of participation.

Photo: The ‘Red Duster’.