Roger Harris, Executive Director, International Seafarers' Welfare & Assistance Network (ISWAN):
"Operating under the auspices of ISWAN, the International Seafarers’ Welfare Assistance Network, this project is all about improving the welfare services and support made available to our seafarers when they call in at different ports around the world.
Linking in to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, which is often referred to as the ‘Seafarers’ Bill of Rights’, the ISWAN project aims to encourage the establishment of port welfare boards across the globe. In essence, a global port welfare board network that supports seafarers irrespective of nationality and creed.
Before I go any further though, I think I should explain a little more about what a port welfare board is and, more importantly, what a port welfare board does. Port welfare boards are in essence maritime partnerships with representatives from all agencies involved with seafarers’ welfare. Their main role is to co-ordinate services and support for seafarers coming in to port so they have information about what’s available to them such as free port transport to and from the town, or how they can stay in touch with family and friends.The important thing is to let seafarers know that their welfare and wellbeing matter and their interests are being looked after through the welfare board.
So, welfare boards can make a real difference to seafarers’ lives and that’s why ISWAN have chosen the UK Merchant Navy Welfare Board to manage this project. Why? Because the MNWB operate 15 regional Port Welfare Committees, or PWCs, covering the entire UK coastline and deal with international welfare organisations on a regular basis.
These PWCs meet regularly to discuss and resolve seafarers’ welfare issues with harbour masters, port health inspectors, shipping agents, unions, local authorities and voluntary organisations that provide a wide range of welfare services and facilities including seafarers’ centres with Wi-Fi, transport, ship and hospital visits.
The project will be led by a Project Executive Committee whose members include representatives from across the maritime community including ship owners, ports, unions, and voluntary organisations. Under the guidance of the Executive Committee, the project will look at what’s currently available with a view to identifying maritime states that may be interested in the project and helping them to set up new port welfare boards in at least 5 of those countries.
If you or your organisation are interested in improving seafarers’ welfare and would like to find out more about this important project, please contact us via the website. We look forward to hearing from you."