Earlier this year a survey by Lloyd's Register (LR) on maritime workers’ wellbeing during COVID-19 revealed that seafarers feel forgotten and abandoned, amid the ongoing crew change crisis.
There are currently 400,000 seafarers stranded at sea, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), due to governments’ travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Despite lobbying by the IMO and other major shipping organisations, many governments have yet to declare seafarers as key workers, which would facilitate crew changes. Even though some countries have declared crew as key workers, seafarers face complicated regional travel restrictions that still make crew changes difficult and many will be unable to reach their families this festive season.
Lloyd’s Register is supporting SeafarerHelp, a free helpline for seafarers and their families available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is operated by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN). The helpline can be contacted via a number of different methods including telephone (with a callback option), e-mail, Live Chat and WhatsApp.
During 2020, the SeafarerHelp team has handled more than 17,000 calls and messages and assisted over 36,600 seafarers and their families. The ISWAN and SeafarerHelp websites also provide useful mental health resources for seafarers, shipowners and ship management companies. Additionally, ISWAN runs a Social Interaction (SIM) project to help shipping companies improve seafarers’ social interaction on board, and to positively impact the wellbeing of their seafarers. More information is available here.
Nick Brown, Lloyd’s Register, CEO Designate, said: “ISWAN and SeafarerHelp provide vital resources for shipping companies and directly to seafarers. 2020 has forced all our routines to change as we continue to navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic across the world. The familiar patterns of our daily lives have been adjusted, the way we work has changed and sacrifices have been made along the way, particularly by the men and women onboard ships who tirelessly keep global supply chains open. For many, there has been isolation and loneliness, some have lost loved ones, and there are those who clearly struggle with the enormity of it all. Never has it been more important to look out for each other, to reach out and connect. Therefore, this festive season, we are proud to be supporting and raising of awareness of these important resources.”
It costs just over £50 an hour to run the helpline, and donations to the helpline can be made through the ISWAN donation page.