Seafarers worldwide supported through COVID crisis as emergency fund hits £1 million spend
When the Covid pandemic hit, ITF Seafarers’ Trust wasted no time launching its £1 million Covid-19 Emergency Fund. Since it launched on 30 March, The £1 million has already been allocated – to 38 organisations and projects across 21 countries worldwide.
The fund aims to provide much needed resources to support seafarers and their families, and to alleviate financial difficulties of seafarers’ welfare services affected by Covid19 or working to combat the virus.
Stranded seafarers are being provided with emergency accommodation, care packages and WiFi and over 190,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) – including masks, gloves and hand sanitizer – are being delivered to crews and family members.
In some ports, hand washing facilities, digital thermometers and education materials have been supplied, to help with infection control.
Almost a quarter of the money has gone to organisations in labour supply countries in Asia. In India, Indonesia and the Philippines organisations are providing food and lodgings for seafarers stuck in crewing hubs like Manila, unable to join ship or return home.
Several Trust-funded projects – including in Algeria, Iran and Turkey – are delivering psychological support. Specialist counselling services, helplines and manuals are helping seafarers – and even their children – to cope with the effects of the pandemic.
In Europe and North America, funding has been directed at maintaining welfare services, especially in ports where crews are stuck on board. Free WiFi has been a key priority, so crews can stay in touch with loved ones. Some centres have set up a parcel service, for online deliveries to be taken to the ships. Others have been distributing care packages – with toiletries, games and snacks – to make crews’ time on board easier.
Head of the Trust Katie Higginbottom said “We’re delighted to support the unions and welfare organisations working tirelessly for seafarers on the frontline of this global crisis. Now, with our initial £1 million already spent, we’re releasing additional funds and looking proactively at what else we can do to make sure seafarers continue to be supported as the situation develops.”