Seafarers International Relief Fund calls for donations to meet $1m target

To mark IMO Day of the Seafarer, SIRF calls for action not words to save lives and protect the livelihoods of seafarers threatened by COVID.

The Seafarers International Relief Fund has issued an urgent appeal for donations on this year’s IMO Day of the Seafarer, as it pushes towards its fundraising goal of $1m in support of seafarers and their families affected by COVID.

The appeal currently stands at $869,502 in donations and pledges received from across the shipping industry, including corporate and personal contributions. More than $610,111 has already been awarded in grants to deliver emergency support for seafarers and families in India.

The Seafarers International Relief Fund (SIRF) was established by leading seafarer welfare charities, after an approach from Ardmore Shipping, wanting to do more to support seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial focus of the campaign is on India, which continues to bear the brunt of a devastating wave of COVID infections, with catastrophic consequences for many seafarers and families who lack access to vaccinations, medical treatment, basic sustenance, and welfare services.

The latest SIRF grants have been issued to leading seafarer charities ISWAN and Stella Maris. The ISWAN grant will be used to fund the facilitation and coordination of priority vaccinations for 5,000 seafarers, as well as financial hardship grants for seafarers and the next of kin of those who have lost their lives, further support through ISWAN’s ‘SeafarerHelp’ telephone line. The Stella Maris grant will fund 200 food parcels, including PPE, for the next three months.

As the global shipping industry comes together to mark the annual IMO Day of the Seafarer. SIRF is asking for organisations to show their support for seafarers by donating to the relief fund to reach the goal of $1 million, all of which will go towards delivering emergency relief to those in dire need.

Speaking on behalf of SIRF ahead of Day of the Seafarer, Catherine Spencer, Chief Executive of The Seafarers’ Charity who are managing the SIRF Fund, commented, “This year more than ever, the Day of the Seafarer needs to be a day of action, not just words. The Seafarers’ Charity is supporting maritime welfare charities’ core costs of delivering their response in India, ensuring that the funds raised through SIRF will support Indian seafarers and their families. We are working with our long-term partners to deliver lifesaving relief to those most in need. It is wonderful to work in a collaborative manner with colleagues from across the industry. We are hugely grateful for the many generous donations and will ensure that they make a difference on the frontline of the fight against COVID.

“However, there is so much more to be done. We urgently need to reach our target and more, if we are to make a difference for the thousands of seafarers and families affected by the pandemic, not just in India, but in other seafaring nations too. If you are marking Day of the Seafarer and recognising the immense sacrifices made by all those who serve at sea, please consider donating to the SIRF appeal.”

SIRF has said it would like to express its sincere gratitude to all donors who have so generously contributed to its appeal. Recent donors include Danish Shipping, Damico, FedNav, Glander International Bunkering, North of England P&I Club, Rightship, Seaspan Ship Management, Vantage Shipbrokers, Hong Kong Seafarer Mutual Assistance Fund, and The Baltic Exchange Charitable Foundation.

SIRF has been established by leading international seafarer welfare organisations, The Seafarers’ Charity is managing the fund with delivery of relief and welfare services provided by The Mission to Seafarers, ISWAN, Sailors’ Society, Stella Maris, ICMA and others. 100% of SIRF donations will go directly to helping seafarers and their families. The Seafarers’ Charity is an agile and responsive grant maker providing full grant assessment, financial assessment and due diligence whilst ensuring the SIRF processes – from application to payment of funds – are turned around in the shortest timescales as required for an ‘emergency fund.

SIRF’s relief efforts are focused on India, home to many thousands of the men and women that serve on the global fleet. However, other countries are also in urgent need of relief, including the Philippines, where COVID cases remain high. The goal of the SIRF is to support seafarers and families in other countries, such as the Philippines, but it urgently requires further donations if it is to extend its support.

To donate, please visit https://donate.theseafarerscharity.org/sirf. Alternatively, email keziah.cunningham@theseafarerscharity.org or call +44 (0) 20 7932 0000.

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