TO ALL SHIPPING BRANCHES AND REGIONAL COUNCILS.
Our ref: S7/3/5
10th June 2020
Covid-19 - Maritime charities update
Further to Circular no. 006/20 of 14th January 2020, I am writing to remind and update you of the support available to seafarers though the maritime charities which your Union is represented on.
The Covid-19 crisis is hitting the maritime sector particularly hard. Redundancies and lay offs have been made, especially amongst seafarer Ratings and more are threatened. The consequences for some of our members and their families could be life changing.
Improving the welfare of seafarers and their families is of vital importance to RMT and it is why most maritime charities exist. Covid-19 has brought this role into sharp focus. Below is a summary of support currently available to seafarers, ex-seafarers and their immediate families from the maritime charities RMT work with and, where relevant, how to access it (links are in bold or underlined):
SAIL – Seafarers Advice and Information Line (SAIL) is a Citizens Advice Bureau service and the first port of call for Seafarers and their families across the UK who need advice on a range of issues. If you are in need of COVID-19 or any other advice and you worked at sea SAIL are there to help you. SAIL advice is provided free, independently, impartially and in strict confidence. Advisers at SAIL can be contacted by phone, 0800 160 1842 (free) or 0203 597 1580 and by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Care Ashore – One of the facilities operated under the Maritime Charities Group umbrella is the ‘Springbok’ residential and hotel facility in Surrey. This is open to ex-Merchant Navy Ratings. Please be advised that Care Ashore is currently following the Government’s guidance on Covid-19 restrictions for care homes and this will cause some delay to any new applications for visits or residency. Call 01403 752555 during office hours (9am-5pm) Monday to Friday with any enquiries.
Merchant Navy Welfare Board – The MNWB is producing regular updates on maritime UK and international maritime policies which affect seafarer welfare during the Coronavirus crisis. MNWB has a useful search facility for all maritime charities which includes links to regional, port based and children’s charities.
Seafarers UK – The biggest of the maritime charities and has drawn down an extra £2 million from its coffers to create a Covid-19 Emergency Fund for organisations providing frontline and support services to merchant seafarers, UK fishers and their families. Funds from this Emergency fund will be allocated up until 31 March 2021 but are not made to individuals. Assistant National Secretary Mark Carden is working with Seafarers UK on how members can benefit from the emergency fund. You will be updated on the outcome.
ITF Seafarers’ Trust – The ITF’s charitable arm makes grants to organisations that support the welfare of seafarers, maritime workers and their families across the world, including the UK where it is based. This Trust does not make grants to individuals but RMT is seeking funding from the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and you will be further advised on how this process will work.
RMT has impressed upon these maritime charities the need for a coordinated response to the hardship seafarers might face from Covid-19, particularly its impact on the shipping industry. Support, including financial must be made available quickly and if Covid-19 causes our seafarers any problems now or in the future, RMT is ready to help you in any way we can.
The National Executive Committee has also instructed me to ensure that reports from meetings of the maritime charities we work with are placed in front of them. I am acting in accordance with that instruction.
I would be grateful if you could bring the contents of this circular to the attention of members in your branch and you will be kept updated with all further developments.