18 October 2018

ISWAN’s second self-help guide for seafarers, Psychological Wellbeing at Sea, is now available in five additional languages.

The guide is the second in our series of three Good Mental Health Guides for Seafarers, which was shortlisted in the Best Crew Welfare Programme/Campaign category of the Safety at Sea Awards 2018. Using evidence from the field of Positive Psychology, Psychological Wellbeing at Sea provides seafarers with straightforward, practical tips on how to enhance their wellbeing despite the many challenges of life at sea.

Psychological Wellbeing at Sea is now available in Filipino, Hindi, Russian, Chinese and Spanish in addition to the original English version. An Arabic translation will also become available in the near future. All the translations, along with the rest of the Good Mental Health Guides series, can be downloaded from the ISWAN SHIP Shop or on the SeafarerHelp website.

The guide was written by Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr. Pennie Blackburn and sponsored by the Shipowners’ Club.


For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

17 October 2018

A new training package produced by KVH Videotel and ISWAN was introduced yesterday during the 5th Annual International Shipowning & Shipmanagement Summit in London.

The package, ‘Seafarers’ Mental Health and Wellbeing’ will be available free of charge throughout the industry due to the critical importance of the topic. The programme was produced in association with ISWAN and comprises a short video, facilitator notes, and information booklets from ISWAN on mental health issues at sea.

‘Seafarers face unique working conditions which can put them under tremendous stress, with fewer opportunities for relief than they would be likely to find on land,’ says Mark Woodhead, KVH senior vice president for EMEA. ‘This programme not only presents information from industry experts but also lets seafarers themselves tell their own story in interviews and short statements, describing the path to achieving happiness.’

If left unaddressed, seafarer’s stress can result in danger to one’s self by way of lowered morale, increased human error, lifestyle illnesses, decreased productivity, burnout, and mental health issues. ‘Seafarers’ Mental Health and Wellbeing’ focuses on what seafarers can do to cope with the challenges but also to take advantage of the many opportunities onboard. It underlines the importance of rest, diet, team activities, and maintaining good relationships. Talking to a trusted person onboard ship may help, and there is also help available outside the ship such as ISWAN’s 24/7 multilingual helpline, SeafarerHelp, as well as the work of port-based organisations such as Mission to Seafarers.

ISWAN’s brochures are being distributed as part of this training package, available as downloads from the dedicated KVH Videotel website. In addition, KVH Videotel is providing brief facilitator notes to assist those who will use this programme to run training sessions on vessels.

‘Seafarers’ Mental Health and Wellbeing’ was produced with overwhelming support from within the industry. Steering group members include: Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Ltd; Associated British Ports; International Maritime Employers’ Council; International Maritime Organization (IMO); ‘K’ Line LNG Shipping (UK) Limited; The Mission to Seafarers; Nautilus International; Sailors’ Society; Shell International Ltd; The Shipowners’ Club; Swire Pacific Offshore; John H. Whitaker (Tankers) Ltd. Seafarers UK and other organisations are assisting with distribution and promotion of the training package.

To obtain ‘Seafarers Mental Health and Wellbeing’, please visit videotel.com/seafarerwellbeing.


For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

17 October 2018

Members of ISWAN India’s Programme Steering Group met in Mumbai on 27 September to strategise and discuss the programme’s latest work for the welfare of Indian seafarers and their families.

Chaired by ISWAN Trustee Michael Pinto, the meeting was attended by fellow ISWAN Trustees Deepak Shetty and Dr Suresh Idnani along with representatives from:

  • Directorate General of Shipping (DGS)
  • Maritime Association of Shipowners, Ship Managers and Agents (MASSA)
  • Foreign Owners Representatives and Ship Managers Association (FOSMA)
  • Maritime Awareness Program Society (MAPS)
  • National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI)
  • Maritime Union of India (MUI)
  • Forward Seamen's Union of India (FSUI)
  • Women's International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) India
  • Sailors’ Society
  • Mission to Seafarers

Chirag Bahri, ISWAN’s Regional Director, presented a report on ISWAN India’s current projects and programmes, including its campaign against non-registered crewing agents. ISWAN has also been working with stakeholders to encourage ports to establish Port Welfare Committees in India as per the MLC 2006, for which a committee has been set up by the DGS.

The members deliberated on a draft proposal for the Seafarers’ Welfare Fund Society (SWFS) regarding welfare schemes that can provide monetary and other useful support to seafarers or their families. The meeting also addressed the mental health of seafarers, what steps have been taken so far and what more can be done to sensitise seafarers on the subject. The members were briefed on the ISWAN’s Good Mental Health Guides, which some shipping companies have already placed on board for seafarers to read in their free time.

ISWAN India would like to express its gratitude to MASSA for hosting the meeting at their board room and to all the members for their valuable guidance to the programme.


For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

Our International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards give seafarers the chance to say thank you to the companies and organisations who have offered them high quality welfare services and facilities.

In a series of interviews this month, we’re talking to the winners of 2018’s awards, which were presented at our ceremony in Geneva back in April. This week, we’re talking to Dave Ellis, Chairman/President of the Mission to Seafarers Brisbane, which won 2018’s Seafarer Centre of the Year award.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the seafarers’ centre you represent.

My name is Dave Ellis and I have been involved with Mission to Seafarers Brisbane for twenty years now, both volunteering on committee and on roster at the Flying Angel seafarer centre within the port of Brisbane, Australia. For the last ten years I have been Chairman/President of the Mission, retiring this year. Our committee has worked hard to improve both the seafarer centre for the benefit of seafarers and volunteers and to place the Mission in a favourable financial and welfare delivery position for the future.

The Mission Seafarers Centre is centrally located within the Port of Brisbane Fisherman Island port precinct. It is within 15 minutes’ drive of all the southern riverside berths, and approximately 30 minutes’ drive from the northern side berths. The Mission has a long term lease on the premises with Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd to ensure its presence within the port.

The Mission is in its 126th year of seafarer welfare and pastoral support in the port of Brisbane and is one of the oldest continuously operating volunteer organisations in Queensland, Australia. Our seafarer centre is open 12 hours a day, 365 days of the year for the benefit of visiting seafarers.

In recent years the Brisbane Mission Seafarers centre has welcomed around 12,000 seafarers. In 2017 this increased to 13,500 seafarer visits which shows that there is an important and ongoing need to provide seafarer welfare centres in ports around the world, providing up to date facilities and support services to meet the needs of today’s seafarer.

Mission to Seafarers Brisbane 033 cropped

What welfare services and facilities does the Mission to Seafarers Brisbane provide for visiting seafarers?

The Brisbane seafarer centre provides a broad range of facilities and services to suit the needs of today’s seafarers who operate on shipping with reduced crew size and short turnaround times.

The Centre is housed in a purpose-built facility of approximately 1,000 square metres. The fully air-conditioned centre aims to provide a pleasant and welcoming club like atmosphere for the visiting seafarers, and a place where they can spend some quiet time, watch TV, play pool or table tennis, use the internet, shop for basic needs, and enjoy the gardens, bar area and fellowship with others. The centre also has a chapel that visitors can use for reflection and worship. Additionally, there are areas for the Centre and Committee offices, meeting rooms, storage, a ship visitor office and a day sleeping room.

The centre offers a free on-demand bus service to collect and return seafarers which maximises their time ashore and at the centre. We provide a range of free services such as hot drinks, knitted beanies, second hand clothing, books and magazines, DVDs and CDs.

Our pastoral and welfare care service outreach is provided by the seafarer centre volunteers, Chaplains, ISWAN certified ship visitors and specially trained volunteers in pastoral care and critical incident first response.

We now have two Honorary Anglican ordained and licensed Chaplains and this has expanded our ability to provide spiritual support to seafarers as needed, including a weekly service at the centre on Sundays.

The Mission works collaboratively with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Fair Work Australia and the ITF to address Seafarers concerns over working conditions. We do not get directly involved in the issue and at the seafarer’s request pass the matter of concern to the relevant party for their investigation and consideration.

Mission to Seafarers Brisbane 058

What do seafarers value the most about your centre when they visit?

The most valued services are the bus transport to and from the ship and to a local shopping centre and the free clothing and beanies.

Our mini-buses clock up some 80,000 km a year driving around the port for seafarers, all using volunteer drivers who do their best to maximise seafarer time ashore. Visiting the local shopping centre provides access to a broad range of shopping experiences and offers the seafarer a much needed change of scenery away from the ship and port environment.

The Mission receives in, processes and gives away some 3 to 4 cubic metres of clothing each month plus around 4,000 knitted beanies a year. The clothing is sought after by seafarers, many of whom have little clothing with them whilst onboard their ship. The clothing ranges from T-shirts to business suits. Clothing can be new or in near-new condition and will be worn as dress clothingwhilst other clothing becomes work wear on deck or in the engine-room. Cold weather clothing is always in great demand and we have provided full ship crews with warm clothing for their next port in minus temperature conditions. The Mission makes up special clothing bags of women’s and children’s clothing for the Pacific Island seafarers who take the clothing back to their communities.

The seafarer centre has a modern feel with leather seats and couches, bright colours and space. Seafarers comment favourably on this and are thankful for the effort we have put in to ensure they arrive into a pleasant and welcoming environment solely for their use and benefit.

The day sleeping room is much appreciated by seafarers waiting to join their ship later in the day or evening. It provides an opportunity to get good rest before joining their ship and perhaps going directly on watch for cargo work or sailing. We even have seafarers visiting from their ship getting a few hours much needed sleep away from the disturbances, noise and vibration of the ship.

Mission to Seafarers Brisbane 002

Our judges were impressed by your innovative collaborations with local universities. Tell us more about the work you do with the university students.

Our Mission is constantly striving to best meet the needs of the seafarer in a constantly changing global shipping environment. We have undertaken a number of surveys to assess how we meet those needs and where we need to change our focus to improve/expand our services and delivery.

We have been assisted by under-graduate and post-graduate psychology students from the Australian Catholic University Brisbane Campus in engaging with seafarers at the centre and undertaking survey activities on the Mission’s behalf as part of this ongoing Mission self-assessment process. This is not a continuous engagement with the university and has been undertaken on a collaborative basis to suit specific student study requirements.

We have also been assisted by media students from Queensland University of Technology to improve and expand our marketing and communication medium development. Again this collaboration is based around student study requirements.

Secondary students from Cannon Hill Anglican College have assisted over a number of years in planting out and extending the garden areas around the seafarer centre.

The annual Christmas Bags Appeal for the seafarers is supported by a number of Anglican colleges and a local kindergarten. The seafarers are sometimes overcome by the very personal Christmas card greetings from the children, and the well-stocked Christmas bags are most welcome on a Christmas Day at sea away from their families.

What effect has winning the Seafarer Centre of the Year award had on the centre?

The initial impact of winning the award was excitement and elation from not only the Mission committee and volunteers but from all our supporters across Brisbane, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and rural areas. We had supporting parishes cheering in church when they were informed of the Mission gaining such a prestigious award, for example. It gave us all such a great sense of pride in what we have been working together on for so many years.

To be nominated by the seafarers we serve and to be judged by our peers gave great importance to the award in everyone’s mind and shows that the seafarers and the shipping industry value what we do and the difference it makes in seafarer’s lives.

We have had pleasing press coverage with radio interviews and articles in local newspapers and Diocese and parish media. The key outcome long term I think is the increased standing of the Mission to Seafarers Brisbane in the broader community, many of whom had not heard of the Mission and its welfare and pastoral work with seafarers or were unaware of the importance of shipping and seafarers to their lives until they became conscious of our winning the award.

We celebrated the winning of the Seafarers Centre of the Year award by holding a thanksgiving celebration at the centre to recognise the importance of the award and the support provided by our many stakeholders and followers. This was well attended with people coming from across suburban Brisbane, Queensland and from interstate.

Why is the role of seafarers’ centres so important in seafarers’ welfare?

The port-based seafarer centre is of great importance to the overall wellbeing of seafarers and also has a key role to play in reducing human element risk in shipping.

Seafarers live and work in a harsh and sometimes dangerous industrial environment full of noise, dirt and oil and are encased in a large steel box as their home and workplace for up to 12 months.

Spending extended periods in such a man-made environment disconnects the seafarer from the beauty of nature and the normal surroundings of home and country. The Mission seafarer centre garden areas are a green oasis of plants, flowers and birds in which seafarers can seek refuge and comfort for a short period away from the man-made environment in which they live. The gardens reduce stress and improve mental clarity.

Mission to Seafarers Brisbane 085

Seafarers work and live in a largely monochrome environment onboard ship, with mainly blacks, whites, browns and greys both within the accommodation and on deck and in the engine room. Whilst functional, this monochromatic environment is under-stimulating and can contribute to stress. Modern research suggests that colour has a profound impact on how we feel and our biological functions. The Mission has noted this research and is using the addition of colour in the seafarer centre to provide a calming and restful environment for seafarers to relax in and recover from the stress of constant ship work activity.

After seafarers have visited the Mission they return to their ship in a better frame of mind, refreshed and alert, with feelings of isolation and loneliness reduced and are less likely to injure themselves or others or cause a disaster in port or along Australia’s pristine coastline. This reduces the human element risk factor in shipping for every seafarer visitor to our seafarer centre, a valuable risk mitigation measure not fully appreciated by governments, ports or the broader shipping industry

The Mission seeks to provide the means to heal mind, body and spirit.

What plans does the Mission to Seafarers Brisbane have for the future?

Continue to identify opportunities to improve and expand our engagement with visiting seafarers: The regular Mission ship visiting program extends our welfare and pastoral care activity to as many seafarers visiting the port as possible, concentrating on first call Brisbane shipping. The Mission acknowledges, based on recent in-house survey data, the need to engage with the majority of seafarers unable to get shore leave during the brief period in port and is currently in the process of expanding the ship visitor program. A recent ISWAN accredited ship visitor course will provide the Mission with the ability to undertake an increased number of ship visits. This builds the number of trained ship visitors to around 20 and our goal for the coming 12 months is to establish a structured port wide ship visitor program in conjunction with Apostleship of the Sea.

Mission to Seafarers Brisbane 099

Free onsite meals: The Mission would like to be able to provide a variety of nutritionally balanced meals to suit all tastes and religious requirements so that seafarers don’t have to rush back to their ship for a midday or evening meal and can continue to enjoy their time ashore at the Mission, nourished physically and mentally.

Ongoing upgrades to the seafarer centre: Recent activity has focused on refreshing the toilets and showers, new clothing racks, new magazine and library areas and improving the meeting room and offices. The Port of Brisbane has provided roof mounted solar panels and this has enabled us to install air-conditioning for the whole centre using only the solar power. The Port of Brisbane is currently undertaking external maintenance to the seafarer centre building. Current Mission funded activity is centred on refreshing the games area, furniture replacement and expansion of the gardens.

Autonomous shipping is evolving rapidly with new technology and high-speed programming enabling the full automation and at sea operation of shipping. These ships are expected to begin to appear in the world’s ports over the next decade or so.

For the Mission this draws special attention to two key issues – what happens to the current 1.5 million seafarers with potentially high job losses in the next two decades and how do we engage with the few remaining seafarers?

The Mission is trying to keep abreast of the introduction of the autonomous ship and aims to be ahead of the need for services, both from issues seafarers face as crew size reduces, such as anguish, hopelessness, depression and suicide, and how to engage with the few remaining, probably highly stressed, seafarers whilst in port.

Mission to Seafarers Brisbane Inc. Points of Contact:

Phone: Seafarers Centre +61 (0)7 3895 1181
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: Visit us at www.mtsbrisbane.org.au
Enewsletter: "BRISBANE MISSION MATTERS". Please send your email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be added to the mail-out list for this quarterly newsletter.


For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

Our International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards give seafarers the chance to say thank you to the companies and organisations who have offered them high quality welfare services and facilities.

In a series of interviews this month, we’re talking to the winners of 2018’s awards, which were presented at our ceremony in Geneva back in April. This week, we’re talking to Ingrid Romers from the Port of Rotterdam, which won 2018’s Port of the Year award.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the port you represent.

The Port of Rotterdam is the biggest port in Europe, and the 10th biggest in the world. Every year we have around 30,000 seagoing vessels calling and over 100,000 inland vessels. The port stretches 40 km long which in itself is a challenge in terms of seafarers’ welfare. I am senior advisor for the Harbour Master in the port and since 2015 I am secretary of the then newly established Rotterdam Port Welfare Committee, a task that is quite different from my other tasks but that I enjoy a lot doing.

What welfare services and facilities does the Port of Rotterdam provide for seafarers?

The Rotterdam Port Welfare Committee has a fund where everyone, business and private individuals, can apply for money for projects. The fund supports all kind of initiatives and everyone can apply for sponsoring, provided that the project benefits the welfare of seafarers visiting Rotterdam. This may be a specific group, for example seafarers who like to play sports or seafarers in a certain part of the port, such as Botlekhaven. The fund is brought together by Deltalinqs (the association representing the companies in the port), the port authority and Stichting the Beer, with Harbour Master René de Vries as Chairman of the Board. In addition, the fund supports the seafarers’ clubs, the transport to them and the volunteers working in the seafarers’ welfare field.

RPWC also seeks to provide more Wi-Fi in the port, such as via mobile routers; in January 2018 the first 10 MiFi’s have been put into operation by ship visitors.

Speaking of ship visitors; Port Keys have been made available to them, an option that was till now not open to volunteers but which allows them to go on board without losing lots of time in administration and security procedures.

All Port Facility Security Officers have received a leaflet to make them aware of the necessity of ship visits and of seafarers’ shore leave; however strict security measurers apply and need to be followed, awareness for any unnecessary time lost at the gate was brought under the attention of security officers and ship agents.

RPWC also has provided personal protective equipment (helmets, safety glasses, safety vests etc.) to ship visitors in order to provide for their personal safety on board and, via the RPWC logo, make the welfare work more noted.

And finally there is the Bridge, a new seaman's house in Oostvoorne that was made possible by a start-up finance of RPWC. The Bridge has received more than 5,000 seafarers in its first year of existence!

Interview Port of Rotterdam

Source: portofrotterdam.com

What do you feel makes the Port of Rotterdam stand out among other ports in terms of seafarers’ welfare provision?

Apart from funding welfare initiatives, the Rotterdam Port Welfare Committee twice a year brings together everyone who has something to do with seafarers' welfare; representations of shipowners, ship agents, seafarers and trade unions, ITF, ship visitors, missions, seaman's homes and voluntary organizations. These are fascinating meetings in which we try to come together for mutual consultation and a joint approach to sometimes difficult to solve matters.

What effect has winning the Port of the Year award had on the port?

We are happy with this award because it confirms that we are doing well to become a port where seafarers like to come. The Port of Rotterdam indeed wishes to be a welcoming port to seafarers, not only to cargoes. This award shows that we are on the right track. The Harbour Master now also pays attention to the seafarers in his port when he presents the yearly ‘nautical annual figures’ to journalists.

The award also opens doors to companies in the port. It is amazing how many companies have never considered that the welfare of seafarers may be an issue. But when you talk to them about the life at sea and how important it is to spend a short while ashore whilst in port, they start to see that and even promise to think about what they could contribute.

The award is certainly also due to the work of dozens of volunteers from Rotterdam and surroundings and it is a recognition to their work as well. We need many volunteers for this work and I am sure that the ISWAN award will stimulate volunteers and get the work out of the unknown. RPWC presents seafarers’ welfare work on several Rotterdam voluntary jobs platforms in order to raise the profile of and familiarity with voluntary work for seafarers and the award is an important part of the profile!

Why is the role of ports so important in seafarers’ welfare?

Welfare is typically work that is necessary but that at the same time knows no business case. The work depends largely on sponsoring and on volunteers. A port can support and enthuse those volunteers and the organisations that they work for and provide financial support.

There are growing shortages of seafarers, partly caused by the working conditions that make the profession less attractive. Better shore facilities could at least partially improve these conditions.

Also it is argued that some 80% of maritime accidents are attributed to 'human factors'. A good reception of seafarers by the ports can indirectly contribute to fewer accidents.

And last but not least: a port visit is THE opportunity for a seafarer to contact family and friends, to get a change of routine at sea, to meet people and to receive medical care.

This is why also the Maritime Labour Convention, interest groups and other maritime organizations, have been pleading for better shore facilities in harbors for some time.

Interview Port of Rotterdam 2

Source: www.rotterdamportwelfare.com

What plans does the Port of Rotterdam have for the future?

We started the work in 2015 and now it is important to keep the work going. Sometimes it is more easy to start than to keep the spirit going. But then again, we have a number of interesting ideas still to be worked out, such as the app ‘Rotterdam Ashore’ that we want to build. It will make contacts between seafarers, when in Rotterdam, possible.

Then transport; the RPWC agreed that the seafarers’ centres may use a taxi company to transport seafarers to their centres in rush hours, this is when their own transport buses are occupied. The taxi costs are for the funds. It also supports costs for insurance etc. of the own transport means of welfare organisations. But this is of course just ‘a drop on a glowing plate’ in a port that stretches 40 km long.

Now, within a consortium, the port is developing public transport in the western part and a newly build transferium connects buses, ferries, taxis, etc. Seafarers as a target group have been put on the agenda of the consortium and it is checked whether connections for seafarers can be found on the new OV transferium.

Also, terminals that provide transport on the terminal for their workers will be asked to consider seafarers in this transport when they leave or go to the ship.

And finally we feel like we have another challenge; and that is that it is not always easy to know how best to serve a seafarer, so which are the projects that RPWC should sponsor and which are best left aside?


For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

10 October 2018

Today is World Mental Health Day. Seafarers spend long periods away from their support networks back home, so when a seafarer is feeling low or experiencing worries, it can be isolating if there is no-one to talk to on board. ISWAN's SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The SeafarerHelp team is here to listen to any seafarer feeling depressed, lonely or unhappy.

An Indian seafarer was feeling very stressed and contacted SeafarerHelp via Live Chat. He was unhappy that he wasn’t making progress in his job as a 4th Engineer while his peers were being promoted to better positions. He explained that he earnt decent wages but was unable to spend them on himself as his family were taking all the money in preparation for his younger sister’s wedding.

The seafarer wanted to get married but couldn’t seem to hold on to a steady relationship. He was also worried about losing his hair. Although he had visited a famous doctor in India for hair loss treatment, it was difficult to follow the treatment while he was away at sea for long periods at a time. He was wary of confiding in the other crew members on his ship as he believed that they would make an issue out of his worries and be unsympathetic.

A SeafarerHelp officer chatted with the seafarer at length, offering him emotional support and suggesting he spoke to a counsellor who could help him deal with his emotions. However, the seafarer was not keen on the idea. As an alternative, the SeafarerHelp officer suggested that he speak to ISWAN’s Regional Representative based in India, Chirag Bahri, who as a former seafarer understood how such issues could build up and become a real problem when at sea.

The seafarer agreed and the SeafarerHelp officer referred his case to Chirag. Chirag contacted the seafarer via WhatsApp and had a long candid chat with him. He put the seafarer at ease as he identified with the issues that the seafarer was facing, having experienced life at sea himself. Over the next few days, Chirag encouraged the seafarer to talk about the things that were worrying him and suggested lifestyle changes such as exercising, healthy eating habits, giving up smoking and making time to socialise with the other crew members.

Chirag kept in touch with the seafarer to see how he was doing. The seafarer had taken Chirag’s suggestions on board and said he was feeling better.

If you are a seafarer or family member of a seafarer and need someone to talk to, you can speak to a member of the SeafarerHelp team confidentially – all our contact details can be found at seafarerhelp.org. Make a note of our details or save them on your phone in case you ever need our help or support.

9 October 2018

Three ISWAN supporters will join 16,000 runners at the Royal Parks Half Marathon this weekend to raise funds for seafarers’ welfare.

Our team is formed by Niels Snog and Rob Austin from ISWAN member Garrets and Garry Strickland from Sharpness Dock and Bristol Port Welfare Committee. They will gather in London’s Hyde Park on Sunday 14 October to run 13.1 miles on closed roads through the capital and eight of its Royal Parks.

You can show your support for our team by donating via their pages below. Your contribution will support our work for the welfare of seafarers worldwide.

Niels Snog and Rob Austin, Garrets: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rob-austin4
Garry Strickland: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GarryStrickland

Good luck to the team!


For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

4 October 2018

Hundreds of seafarers entered their photos of daily life at sea into a competition celebrating Day of the Seafarer and the winners have now been chosen.

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) theme for its Day of the Seafarer campaign this year focused on seafarers’ wellbeing, particularly their mental health. We partnered with the IMO to launch a photo competition as part of this campaign, inviting men and women working at sea to share photos of what a ‘Good day at sea’ actually looks like.

More than 1,700 compelling photographs from across the world were entered by seafarers of all ranks, from deck cadet to captain, and spanning dozens of nationalities. They ranged from evocative seascapes, to depictions of onboard camaraderie, to the often long and arduous tempo of life at sea, from oily engine rooms to enclosed spaces.

The entries were reviewed by the IMO’s panel of judges and the winning and shortlisted photos can now be viewed here.

The photo awarded first place is a bold geometric composition, focusing on the deck of a ship and the blue ocean beneath. The overall effect is one of immediate visual drama but with clear underlying references to the swirling rhythms and patterns of life at sea and the solid dignity of the seafarer’s labour. It was submitted by Zay Yar Lin, a Master from Myanmar, who will receive a tablet computer and an action camera.

Second place was awarded to Hanbo, a third mate from China, and there are five third-placed photos. Fifteen further images are highly commended.

The photo competition was organised by the IMO in partnership with ISWAN, and partly sponsored by the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA).


For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

Our International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards give seafarers the chance to say thank you to the companies and organisations who have offered them high quality welfare services and facilities.

In a series of interviews over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking to the winners of 2018’s awards, which were presented at our ceremony in Geneva back in April. This week, we’re talking to Kristen Beattie, Group Communications Manager at Wallem Group, which won 2018’s Shipping Company of the Year award.

Tell us a bit about the shipping company you represent.

Wallem Group offers a range of maritime services to the global maritime industry, including Ship Management, Ship Agency, Commercial Services, Crew Management and Technical Services. Wallem also offers a number of 3rd party maritime services covering marine procurement, lifeboat repair and maintenance. The company was founded in Shanghai in 1903 and has experience over its more than 115 years in managing a range of different vessel types including dry bulk carriers, tankers, multi-purpose vessels and PCTCs.

What welfare services and facilities does Wallem provide for seafarers?

Wallem has a comprehensive wellness@sea programme which is covered in pre-joining safety briefings and included in all training sessions and incorporates dignity@sea training to ensure a respectful and professional workplace environment onboard. A hard copy of the guide is also given to all seafarers upon joining and they are given a designated email address through which they can raise concerns on any issue without fear of bias or retribution. Wallem also encourages social activities onboard to help build and strengthen relationships and hence improve teamwork.

We are committed to helping our seafarers have access to all the information and support to meet their needs regarding welfare, both onboard and in visiting ports.

What do you feel makes Wallem stand out among other shipping companies in terms of seafarers’ welfare provision?

What makes Wallem stand out is that we believe that welfare and safety – and indeed operational excellence are all intertwined. Respect and support for seafarers is integral to Wallem’s strong safety culture.

Therefore, having a crew whose wellbeing, mental and physical health is prioritised is key. We also take a holistic approach to wellness, incorporating support to our seafarers’ families back home via the Women of Wallem. Having seafarers who feel engaged and positive is essential to boost morale onboard and ensure that the focus is on operational excellence and safety.

You previously won the Shipping Company of the Year award in 2014. Since then, you have introduced your wellness@sea programme for seafarers’ health and wellbeing at sea. Tell us more about the programme.

We feel very strongly about looking after our crews, ensuring that they are well looked after onboard, that their families back home are supported and that we do the right thing by them. This commitment is formalised in our holistic wellness@sea programme which was developed in conjunction with a clinical psychologist. It addresses mental and emotional health and covers every aspect of wellbeing at sea, from stress management to healthy eating and the importance of quality sleep and exercise; as well as a positive working culture and behaviour.

Interview Wallem

Source: www.wallem.com

What effect has winning the Shipping Company of the Year award had on the company?

We are incredibly proud to win this award in recognition of our efforts towards seafarer welfare, especially as it was our seafarers who voted for us. It is proof that our efforts in ensuring we provide the best welfare we can for our seafarers have been communicated well and effectively applied onboard. This is also reflected in our high rate of seafarer retention. Winning this prestigious award is undoubtedly great for morale, both on shore and at sea.

Why is the role of shipping companies so important in seafarers’ welfare?

We believe that shipping companies owe this to their seafarers – at Wallem we promise to provide our seafarers with a working environment onboard that is safe, professional, supportive and respectful, in return for a commitment of high standards of safety and environmental compliance from our seafarers.

What plans does Wallem have for the future?

We are confident that our welfare guidelines are in line with and exceed those currently being shared in the industry by various bodies. However, we welcome more industry attention on this important issue. We are currently looking at our guidelines along with our clinical psychologist to see if there are any best practices that we can learn from.

We recently carried out a seafarer engagement survey and are looking at the next phase of supporting our seafarers in managing the impact of internet and social media use onboard from an overall holistic perspective.

The welfare of our seafarers – and indeed their families back home – will remain our main priority – as we believe that it simply the right thing to do as a responsible company and that it is critical for operational safety and excellence.


For all the latest news in seafarers’ welfare, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter here.

Renato 'Jun' Pablo Jr - Regional Director, Philippines and South East Asia

Our Regional Programme provides humanitarian support to seafarers and their families in three specific regions: South East Asia, South Asia and Nigeria. Meet our representative in the Philippines and South East Asia, Renato 'Jun' Pablo Jr...

Tell us about yourself.

I live in Las Pinas City in Metro Manila, Philippines and I’ve been working with MPHRP and ISWAN since 2013, a total of 5 years now working in maritime welfare. I have three children and am married to France Pablo. I am also an Executive Pastor of the United Pentecostal Church in my community in Las Pinas since 2004, with an interest on the moral and spiritual development of the people in my community. This makes me feel fulfilled in my role with seafarers and their families because it also involves helping and supporting people.

What is life like for a seafarer in your region?

Filipino seafarers are remarkable, passionate and dedicated people. When not on board, you will find most of them by simply walking around the streets of Luneta, Kalaw and in some other parts of Manila. Most Filipinos see seafaring as a noble career and a gateway to explore more of the beauty of the world. The Philippines is an archipelagic country and seafaring is part of Filipinos’ nature. The seafaring career attracts many Filipinos as they can earn faster and larger sums than being a land-based worker.

How are you able to help seafarers?

Seafaring is a risky profession, and many of the concerns brought to the attention of MPHRP and ISWAN are due to this. I have been able to provide assistance in cases dealing with the trauma of maritime piracy, supporting and assisting seafarers affected by abandonment, contractual issues, and deaths at sea, medical assistance and even cases involving mental health. The key factor in helping is to provide necessary and practical assistance using the available network and resources of the programme (including small grants), and emotional support for seafarers and their families for a limited period while needed.

What skills are important for your work with seafarers?

Building rapport and establishing and maintaining connections with organisations which can help seafarers to provide practical support is important, but even more so is the availability of emotional support. I spend time with seafarers and their families, both on the phone and face to face, and I have built up a rapport with them after – in some cases – years of work. Much of my work comes by word of mouth and I am proud to be able to provide a network of support for seafarers and their families, not just through me but also through other agencies.

What have you needed to do to help the families of seafarers?

I am used to supporting the families of hostages. The Naham 3 seafarers were held in Somalia for four years, and their families needed help for daily living, school fees and rent. I would speak to them at least monthly, but sometimes more often, and would always be available if they wanted to talk. I received training to be able to help, and I have used this in my connections with other families and other kinds of trauma.

What is the best part of the work you do?

The best part of the work for me is receiving seafarers, discussing their concerns and finding ways to provide practical and timely solutions. A chief cook approached me and asked for medical assistance after he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and had no insurance cover for medication. He went to the government for assistance but they could only offer a limited amount which did not cover the required treatment. The Seafarers Emergency Fund provided a grant, he immediately took the medical procedure and recovered. The seafarer came back to the office and expressed his thank you with teary eyes. This is the kind of positive result which is the best part of the job for me.

Tell us about some of the more memorable cases you have worked on at ISWAN.

Working with the families of the Naham 3 hostages is one of the most memorable cases I have worked on, as I was responsible for the connection with ISWAN and their families during their homecoming in November 2016. During the four and a half years they were held in Somalia their children had grown up and their parents had become old. After the homecoming they needed time to make an adjustment from their day-to-day life in Somalia to their new reality, for example going from one meal a day to three, and having freedom to move around. Within the Philippines, the major concern was how to earn money to support their families. Assisting them and their families with this major readjustment was something I was very proud to have been part of.