Invisible heroes.

90 per cent of everything we use comes by sea, brought to us by seafarers.

Seafarers leave their homes and loved ones for up to a year at a time.

They miss births and Christmases, first steps and funerals, to work long shifts, spending 24 hours a day with the same small group of colleagues.

The isolation, shift work, and anxiety about family back home can take a harsh toll on their mental health. And the dangers they face can be huge – violent storms, accidents, even pirate attacks.

Some 555 seafarers were killed and a further 5,300 injured between 2011 and 2017, according to the European Maritime Safety Agency – victims of collisions, flooding, explosions or other incidents.

And they aren’t just exposed to the physical risks of working in a wild natural environment.

Many seafarers are from the world’s most deprived communities and see the job as a path out of poverty.

Thousands of miles from home, they’re particularly vulnerable to unscrupulous ship owners, who can force them to work in terrible conditions or withhold their wages.

Hidden behind port walls or away at sea, most of us don’t give these men and women a second thought.

But this invisible workforce is vast – 1.6 million seafarers – and so is its impact on our lives.

More than 90 per cent of everything we use is brought to us by sea: our phones, our cars, our cups of coffee, even the bricks that make up our homes.

We all rely on seafarers. And seafarers rely on us.

How we help

"When you go home and your child sees you, it feels like you’re a stranger from the house. Deep inside you it hurts, because you need to be far from your family. It’s a tough job, which we must stand for our loved ones."

Second officer Jonathan Valdez, Philippines

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Email: [email protected]
During these unprecedented times, please contact us on: +44 (0)7718 393 380

Sailors' Society, Seafarer House, 74 St Annes Road, Southampton, Hampshire, SO19 9FF, UK
Registered Company No: 86942 Charity No: 237778


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