The UK's 'Citizens' Advice' service for seafarers has had a royal visit to its recently refurbished and expanded headquarters in Greenwich, south London.
The Princess Royal - patron of Citizens Advice nationally – attended the Seafarers' Advice and Information Line (SAIL) premises to mark the expansion of the service, which provides free, confidential and impartial advice on a wide range of issues, from debt and welfare benefits to housing and employment problems.
Founded by the Seafarers Hospital Society in 1996 in response to the specific needs of seafarers and their families, SAIL has grown considerably since the Princess Royal's last visit. The service was expanded to cover the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in 2016 and has grown from three members of staff in 1997 to 13, plus a full-time manager.
SAIL is now funded by the Seafarers Hospital Society in partnership with Seafarers UK and Greenwich Hospital, and provides unique support for seafarers and their families by phone and online.
During her visit, the princess met SAIL manager Miles Cowley, and staff and volunteers who provide advice. 'We were delighted to welcome The Princess Royal to our newly refurbished and expanded premises,' said Mr Cowley. 'Having her support for the work we do will make a real difference. She spent time talking to everyone on the team. She really engaged with our staff and showed genuine interest in the work we do.
'Last year we helped 1,334 seafarers from all round the UK and raised almost £900,000 on their behalf in benefits, charitable grants and debt write-offs - that's an all-time record,' he added. 'We know there's demand for more and have just expanded the service to meet the need.'
- SAIL phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.
- Advice is also available by email, fax, post and skype.
- For more information, visit SAIL online