British peer and former head of Maritime UK Lord Jeffrey Mountevans has highlighted to the House of Lords the role of maritime charities in supporting seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the Nautilus Welfare Fund.
The crossbench hereditary peer gave a briefing on 30 April on behalf of the Maritime Charities Group (MCG), and said its 10 members in the sector had 'raided their reserves' to come up with an extra £3m in funding.
'Maritime charities have stepped up to support our seafaring key workers, and face many of the same challenges as other UK charities,' Lord Mountevans said.
'Now more than ever, maritime charitable and voluntary sectors are dependent on the seafaring community to maintain the supply lines and keep the UK fed.
'Help is needed right across the seafaring community. Merchant seafarers and fishermen, ferry and cruise ship crew have all been affected.'
With severe restrictions in place in ports around the world, many seafarers working on merchant ships are stuck onboard without access to shore-based help.
Being thousands of miles from home, worried about their own health and that of their families, support from the charity community is needed even more than ever.
MCG members include the Nautilus Welfare Fund, Seafarers UK and Trinity House. Members are working together to co-ordinate their responses to provide vital support, from funding delivery partners working on the ground to fast-tracking grants to those in need.
Former seafarers are also 'some of the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach in our society and seafarer families are suffering too,' said the MCG.
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Charitable maritime Covid-19 initiatives
Initiatives so far have ranged from emergency grants for individuals, to revenue support to keep seafarer centres operating including the following Covid-19 emergency fund help:
- Seafarers UK launched a £2m COVID-19 Emergency Fund, in addition to its budgeted £2m grants this year for charities and other organisations providing services and support for seafarers, as well as an emergency public appeal
- Trinity House earmarked a significant portion of its annual grants budget for charities working on the front line
- The TK Foundation has given over US$300k so far given to seafarer centres around the world and welfare organisations supporting individual seafarers in need
- Nautilus Welfare Fund supports seafarers past and present including those in supported living and care homes
- Seafarers Hospital Society works with frontline providers such as the Fishermen's Mission and Shipwrecked Mariners' Society to plug the gap while fishermen and their families wait for Universal Credit, and with those supporting merchant seafarers in need
- Merchant Navy Welfare Board brings together maritime charity welfare providers to exchange information and find solutions for seafarers and their families who are in hardship
- Greenwich Hospital has established an emergency fund for individuals and partner organisations working with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines
- ITF Seafarers Trust has set aside over £1 million for seafarers internationally and over £600,000 has already been allocated
- Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity has created a Naval Hardship Fund for those charities who are responding to above anticipated need and a support line has been set up
- Lloyd's Register Foundation grantholder CHIRP Maritime are leading an international campaign to get seafarers recognised as key workers by governments around the world. They have published a new series of papers about the impact of COVID-19 on seafarers which LRF are helping to publicise