Seafarer support services and working in partnership are vital to the future of the maritime industry

While the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) reports strong demand for its helpline services over the past year, it is clear that access to welfare and support for seafarers around the world remains a priority for the maritime industry.

In its new annual review covering the period from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, ISWAN reports that the total number of calls and messages handled by its international toll-free 24-hour helpline, SeafarerHelp, was still 81 % higher in the last financial year than before the pandemic in 2019/20. Demand for ISWAN’s helpline for crews working in the superyacht industry, Yacht Crew Help, has also grown steadily since its launch in November 2020, and ISWAN now operates 16 bespoke helplines for companies and organizations in the maritime industry, adding five new helplines in the last year.

Over 80% of ISWAN hotline cases are handled internally, and many since last year have been referred to ISWAN staff in India, the Philippines and Nigeria , which provides practical humanitarian support to seafarers and their families living in these areas.

The most common reasons seafarers and family members contacted SeafarerHelp included requests for information (including health inquiries regarding COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccination campaign). 19 of ISWAN in India) and financial or debt problems, with many sailors inquiring about the financial aid administered. by ISWAN for those affected by COVID-19 and Typhoon Rai in the Philippines. In late March 2022, ISWAN also launched the Ukraine Crisis Support Fund on behalf of Seafarers International Relief Fund in response to the war in Ukraine.

As seafarers face challenges ranging from personal struggles to global crises, seafarer mental health remains a key area of ​​work for ISWAN. Stakeholders from the shipping, superyacht and cruise ship sectors continue to contact ISWAN to deliver its Mental Health Awareness Training for the Maritime Industry to their staff ashore and at sea. The Social Interaction Project ISWAN’s Matters (SIM) also completed its trials of social interaction initiatives onboard merchant vessels in 2021 and the project’s phase two report, recommendations and guidance for industry have since been published this year.

ISWAN works to make free assistance more accessible to sailors around the world, especially those with limited onboard connectivity. To complement its existing services, the organization launched the ISWAN for Seafarers app in June 2021 in partnership with The Shipowners’ Club. The app provides a direct line to ISWAN helplines and offline access to resources for seafarers, and has been downloaded over 2,800 times in the last financial year alone by seafarers. sea ​​of ​​70 nationalities.

ISWAN Managing Director Simon Grainge said: “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still very much felt by seafarers, but the past year has brought new challenges, such as the crisis in Ukraine, in more than what sailors already face on a daily basis, such as spending months away from loved ones, long hours and fatigue.

“Last year has shown how big a difference the industry can make when we all work together. The Seafarers’ International Relief Fund (SIRF, launched by The Seafarers’ Charity in May 2021), has brought together social welfare organizations and created a fundraising focal point to support seafarers and their dependents through the major problems they face. We are proud to be part of this initiative and are grateful to all of our funders and partners who make the work we do for seafarers and their families possible.
Source: ISWAN