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SHS: seafarers' need for charitable help a 'daily reality'

23 March 2023

The UK maritime welfare charity Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) released a round-up showing the impact of the cost of living crisis.

In 2022 SHS awarded a total of £157,955 to institutions, and additionally gave 314 grants to individual seafarers, to the value of £214,676. Needs have remained constant. In 2021 during the Covid-19 crisis, the number of grants was 365 with a value of £253,667.

Grants assessor Caroline Randall said: 'I can honestly say that in five years of working for the Seafarers Hospital Society, I have never seen such a desperate need for charitable help as I saw in 2022. The cost of living crisis is not just a media soundbite – it is a daily reality for many seafarers and their families.'

Case studies show the nature and impact of grants awarded. One applicant served as a cook in the Merchant Navy for 31 years, served in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary for a year and saw service in Iraq. He now has several serious health issues and recently moved into a one-bedroom flat where he can live independently, but had very little furniture. SHS awarded him a grant of £800 to help him set up.

Another applicant, who served in the Merchant Navy for 13 years, was awarded a grant of £800 for a washing machine and new furniture.

CEO Sandra Welsh said: 'Access to healthcare and welfare support for seafarers has been at the core of our activities since we were first founded in 1821. We believe that maritime workers and fishermen are the backbone of our industry which is why we have worked hard to provide them with access to dental care, mental health support, physiotherapy and financial support. Our industry must do its best to be welcoming and supportive of existing and future workers throughout their careers.'


The report showed seafarers also accessed almost 800 physiotherapy sessions in 2022, and the society will be extending that network in 2023 in Scotland and the north of England. The Society’s mental health programmes and its emergency dental grant schemes were also well used. SHS also supports with travel costs for to treatment at Dreadnought Hospital service for seafarers.

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