Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) has launched a maritime emergency fund which aims to provide fast and modest cash grants to seafarers in difficulties.
The dedicated fund is designed to respond to emergency financial or welfare requests from seafarers or their families in less than 24 hours, taking the immediate pressure off stressful situations.
“Most seafarers and fishermen enjoy good living and working conditions but there can be circumstances when crew are not paid, cannot access communications to speak to family and loved ones and even lack food, water and heating,” AoS Great Britain National Director Martin Foley said during the launch of the fund on board the HQS Wellington in London on June 19.
“AoS is often called upon to provide emergency support in what quickly becomes a very stressful and difficult situation for crew and their families, many of whom depend on remittances to pay for basics back home. Resolving these problems can take months so quick cash grants can really help. Our port chaplains are uniquely placed to judge whether a modest grant will alleviate a crew member’s situation without compromising efforts to resolve the underlying problem,” he said.
Father Bruno Ciceri of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, which coordinates the activities of AoS worldwide, congratulated AoS GB on this initiative. “The emergency fund is a practical example of how of the Church and AoS is responding to the immediate needs of those in difficulty and crisis.”
Foley explained that when a need is identified, AoS’ port chaplains will contact either the National Director, (or, depending on the sum involved, the chair of the AoS Great Britain finance committee) to authorise the grant.
“Payment will then be made directly either to the chaplain, the seafarer or his family. This short chain will ensure payments are made quickly and without unnecessary bureaucracy. Experience tells us that Individual payments will be hundreds, rather than thousands of pounds.”
Foley stressed the fund would not duplicate other existing sources of help for seafarers and fishermen. “Regular reports of grants made will be submitted to the AoS trustees’ finance committee, who at the end of each year will have the discretion to transfer any surplus to AoS’ general charitable funds for seafarers’ welfare. This is to avoid the accumulation of funds year on year.”