Helpline cases triple as seafarers seek help during COVID-19 pandemic

Jun 04 2020


International 24-hour helpline SeafarerHelp, operated by the International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), has experienced a surge in demand as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affects seafarers worldwide.

In April 2020 alone, ISWAN's SeafarerHelp handled over 600 new cases – more than triple the number in the same month last year. Many of these cases involve seafarers experiencing issues as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, up to 1 May 2020, the helpline has recorded over 470 COVID-19-related cases affecting more than 7,000 seafarers.

 

So far, the most common COVID-19-related problem reported by seafarers to SeafarerHelp is difficulty with repatriation. Crews around the world have been left stranded, unable to disembark from their vessels due to port restrictions or unable to make their home once ashore due to lockdown measures. In cases such as these, SeafarerHelp's helpline officers work with a network of organisations including ship owners, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), government agencies, welfare bodies, and ISWAN's own regional teams in the Philippines, India and Nigeria, who are in close contact with their national maritime authorities, to arrange the help the seafarers need.

 

However, many of SeafarerHelp's cases are dealt with in-house. The helpline’s officers are trained in counselling skills, emotional support and suicide risk assessment and have been supporting seafarers contacting the helpline with stress and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Over 100 cases so far involve seafarers seeking financial assistance, and the SeafarerHelp team has referred those eligible to the ISWAN Hardship Fund and Seafarers Emergency Fund. A similar number of cases were requests for information on topics such as visas, joining ships or port restrictions, and SeafarerHelp provides a first port of call for those unsure where to go.

 

SeafarerHelp Deputy Team Manager Yasmine Zhao said: 'Our helplines are coping well during the COVID-19 crisis, despite the fact that we ourselves are under lockdown and everybody is working from home.

 

'Due to the spreading of the coronavirus outbreak, we have seen a rapid increase in the number of calls coming into our helplines. The number of calls more than tripled in April 2020 if you compare with the number of contacts we received in the same period last year. To be able to deal with the high volume of calls, we have added extra shifts and extra staff on top of our normal shift pattern. Our team is working extremely hard to assist seafarers and their families worldwide.'

 

Ekaterina, one of the SeafarerHelp officers working on the helpline, said: 'Every call is different. Sometimes seafarers are happy to get news and current updates; sometimes they need a lot of emotional support. We ask questions and listen to what a seafarer needs. We are happy to follow the lead of the call and stay in touch with seafarers until they feel better or until their problem is resolved.'

 

ISWAN's SeafarerHelp is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the helpline team speaks a number of different languages. Seafarers and their families can contact the helpline via a range of channels including telephone, e-mail, WhatsApp and Live Chat, and speak confidentially to a trained helpline officer. More information about SeafarerHelp and contact details can be found at www.seafarerhelp.org.

 



Previous: ABS advice on finding a low carbon strategy

Next: Ballast water equipment news


Related News

Video of tanker Cap Pinède hitting Marseille port wall

(Jun 25 2020)

A video has emerged dated Jun 22, 2020, of 3500 DWT chemical tanker Cap Pinède hitting a port wall in Marseille, said to be last weekend (understood to be June 15).



Brunvoll – “70% of shuttle tanker thruster market”

(Jun 18 2020)

With a contract from Malaysian shipping company AET, Brunvoll says it now has 70 per cent of the market for thrusters for dynamic positioning systems on shuttle tankers, based on vessels it estimates are in operation around the world.



Russia’s first “green” tanker Vladimir Monomakh is ready for sea trials

(Jun 11 2020)

Launched at the Zvezda Shipyard on May 12, the first Russian tanker of Aframax type Vladimir Monomakh is ready for sea trials.



Ship number 4,000 with Framo pumps

(May 28 2020)

Two long-term partners in the same city celebrated a very special delivery when Utkilen's new vessel was named ship number 4,000 in operation to be fitted with Framo pumps.



First tanker with Saudi oil for Belarus reaches Port of Klaipeda

(May 14 2020)

A tanker carrying oil bought by Belarus from Saudi Aramco has reached the Port of Klaipeda, BelTA learned from Aleksandr Tishchenko, Press Secretary of the Belarusian state petrochemical concern Belneftekhim.



June 2020

low carbon strategy - digital tanker market models - battery explosions - better catering onboard - challenges of ballast installations