The Seafarers’ Charity awards grants to new online services to support seafarers

Apr 22 2021

Actioning their new strategic approach, The Seafarers’ Charity awarded a total of £844,760 to 17 organisations in its first meeting of this year’s grant programme.

The charity recently launched its strategy ‘Thrive’, which focuses on achieving five strategic outcomes for seafarers [Enhanced financial resilience; Better working lives at sea; Improved Health and Wellbeing; Raised safety standards and practices and increased social justice] and rebranded from Seafarers UK. Last year the charity awarded £3.5m to organisations supporting seafarers through its annual grants award programme and additionally a specific COVID-19 Emergency Fund to provide an all-embracing eco-system of welfare support to seafarers.


The charity Safer Waves is amongst the new grant recipients for the provision of an email support service to merchant seafarers who have experienced sexual violence, harassment or gender discrimination while working at sea.


This new service has been developed after research suggested that after experiencing harassment or assault, cases were badly mishandled, and victims did not have access to appropriate support. Comments from respondents showed that the burden has been on the individual to prove that what had happened to them was ‘bad enough' to be taken seriously. The ability to receive support was further compromised if the perpetrator was in a position of seniority onboard.


The anonymous service will help seafarers process traumatic incidents, give coping strategies if they are still in an abusive situation, and ultimately reduce the impact of the incident. The pre-development consultation of the service showed that email was the preferred communication method.


Another newly funded service will be delivered by Befrienders Worldwide to offer emotional support to seafarers through a new Befrienders Worldwide Help App which will be adapted to enable seafarers to contact designated Help centres located in countries which have strong links to shipping.


The development of this programme recognises the isolation and loneliness many seafarers face and resulting mental health problems. The prospective Seafarers Support Centres are USA - Boston; Spain - Costa del Sol; Sri Lanka / India; Singapore - Singapore City; Philippines - Manila; China - Hong Kong. These were selected on technical grounds - main shipping routes, satellite connections and the languages spoken.


Befrienders Worldwide also wants to work collaboratively with other maritime welfare and seafaring charities and will provide access to each of these organisations via Befrienders Worldwide’s Seafarers International Emotional Support Services.


Catherine Spencer, CEO of The Seafarers’ Charity said, ‘We award funds to organisations to support a holistic range of delivery partners to ensure seafarers are supported at all stages of their lives.


As well as our long-term partners such as ISWAN, Seafarers’ Advice and Information Line, The Mission to Seafarers, Stella Maris, Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Society, Sailors’ Children Society, the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, and The Fisherman’s Mission we are also exploring opportunities to work with new partners to support the emerging welfare of seafarers.


We aim to be responsive to the needs of seafarers and our strategic approach aims to remove hardship and get to the root of problems through proactive and innovative work.


We’re pleased to be working with these two new partners to provide these new and much needed services to support the difficulties experienced by those who work at sea.’


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