Seafarers COVID relief fund surpasses $1M target

The Seafarers International Relief Fund (SIRF) has reached its goal of raising $1 million to provide vital relief for seafarers and their families affected by COVID.

The total raised by SIRF currently stands at $1.17 million.
As explained, the target was reached thanks to a substantial donation from Japanese shipping major NYK Line, in addition to many other personal and corporate donors, including most recently the TK Foundation.

 The SIRF appeal was launched in May this year when the catastrophic scale of the latest wave of the pandemic in India became clear. Several seafarer welfare charities, including The Seafarers’ Charity, The Mission to Seafarers, ISWAN, Sailors’ Society and Stella Maris, as well as other shipping industry players, came together to explore ways to deliver urgent support to seafarers and their families.

Together, they rapidly formed SIRF as an emergency relief initiative to raise funds to deliver rapid assistance, initially in India and with the potential to expand to other countries.

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In less than three months, SIRF has raised more than $1 million, all of which goes towards supporting seafarers and their families from the threat of COVID.

The latest SIRF grants include funding for Stella Maris to provide food parcels to more than 1,000 seafaring families in Kochi, Kerala, plus funding for support workers to deliver post-COVID medical care, counselling, and therapy, including specialist care for children.

 “We are thrilled to have exceeded our target of US$1 million. This was an ambitious goal, but one that reflected the catastrophic impact of the pandemic, particularly in India, where many seafaring communities have been badly affected, through lives lost and severe health impacts, as well as the personal costs for the livelihoods of seafarers,” Catherine Spencer, Chief Executive of The Seafarers’ Charity speaking on behalf of SIRF, commented.

“To have reached this goal in less than three months is a wonderful testament to shipping’s global community. All our donors, big and small, have mobilised in support of seafarers and every dollar has helped to deliver urgent, life-saving support to those most in need.

ISWAN vaccination drive in Bengaluru, India, supported by SIRF. Photo: SIRF

Although the COVID situation in India is stabilising, many other parts of the world are suffering from further waves of infection, including other seafaring nations, such as Indonesia, South Africa, and the Philippines. SIRF said it is looking at how it can extend its support to seafaring communities in other countries.
“The funds raised will continue to support our work in India, where thanks to our delivery partners, we have been able to respond rapidly to the needs of those at risk. This has included funding for oxygenators, COVID care kits, food aid, and post-COVID support, as well as supporting a vaccination drive for seafarers,” Spencer added.

However, the pandemic is far from over, and the situation remains bleak in many nations. SIRF is looking at what we can do to help support seafarers in other countries, but this relies on your help. The SIRF appeal remains open for donations and we continue to ask you to dig deep in support.”
The SIRF Fund is administered and overseen by The Seafarers Charity (formerly Seafarers UK), a grant funder with well-established governance mechanisms and processes for monitoring and evaluation to ensure efficiency and transparency. 100% of the SIRF donations will help seafarers and their families affected by COVID.