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Helping the heroes of the sea: walk a mile in their shoes

We all rely on seafarers to bring us more than 90% of the goods and fuels we use on a daily basis, from the fuel in our cars, to the food in our cupboards. Now, more than ever, the wider world is starting to understand the role seafarers play in our everyday lives. More importantly, with more of us in isolation, there seems to be an increased understanding of their roles at sea, separated from their loved ones and, especially the impact of this on their mental wellbeing.

The latest Seafarers Happiness Index Survey has given seafarers the opportunity to share their concerns about a range of issues, including shore leave and mental health. The industry is working hard to repatriate the estimated 200,000 or more seafarers awaiting repatriation, with a similar number trying to replace crews who have been at sea for more than nine months, and many over a year. Now more than ever, it is important the wider world understand the dedication of those onboard teams working hard to continue to maintain the global supply chains, despite long periods at sea.

In normal circumstances, The Mission to Seafarers provides face-to-face, personal support in over 200 ports around the world. This has had to be scaled back to 40% of our normal activity, due to current restrictions which have hugely impacted seafarers: from losing the ability to get local sim cards or access WiFi to call their families, to extended contracts and the difficulties of returning home at the end of their contracts due to closed borders and quarantine.

The Mission is delighted to work with many partners, across the world, to advocate for these incredible and heroic seafarers and is extending its provision of Mifi units to help seafarers access support when they need it most.

To continue ongoing projects to support for seafarers around the world, the Mission launched the Global Champions Unite challenge in April to bring together people around the world to take part in caring for communities at sea. Participants choose their own challenge and have 90 days to reach their goal and raise their target.

This united support helps to sustain the Mission’s continuity of care, allowing for the provision of PPE for all port teams to ensure frontline teams are protected to safely transport coronavirus-free seafarers in specially adapted vehicles. Most urgently, each of the 121 Flying Angel Centres require a deep clean, as well as screens fitted to protect staff and seafarers once ports start to re-open, to support those seafarers that can come ashore.

The Global Champions Unite Campaign has raised £71,000 so far against a goal of £60,000 – our thanks go out to all the heroes across the maritime industry and beyond who have taken on the challenge during their lockdown. We’d like to shine a particular spotlight on ICS Secretary General Guy Platten who has raised over £18,500 for the cause by running a half marathon on his treadmill, to Ardmore Shipping, Anglo Ardmore and Thome Ship Management for jointly raising $18,000 through their Sporting for Seafarers challenge and the UK P&I club for their cherished $15,000 donation.

There is still time to take on a challenge of your own. As individuals or teams, you can design your challenge to suit you or your company whilst adhering to the government guidelines in your country so that we all stay safe and well. We offer this as one way in which you can support and acknowledge the heroism of seafarers worldwide.

Please take a moment to explore this further by clicking this link or simply donate at GCU Donate!, or contact Krishna at krishna@missiontoseafarers.org to register your interest and receive a fundraising pack. Find out more about this project here.