Maryanne Adams, who works for the Marshall Islands Registry, raised over £1350 for ISWAN. Maryanne ran the Brighton marathon in the UK and completed the course in under six and half hours. Maryanne said it was tough going although she enjoyed it. Maryanne visited the ISWAN where Roger Harris, the Executive Director, thanked her for her efforts. Roger said "We are deeply grateful for Maryanne's amazing feat and raising so much for the welfare of seafarers. This is the first time someone has run a marathon to fundraise for ISWAN."

Maryanne's fundraising page is still open at Donations can be made by credit card and by mobile phone text.

We still need to raise funds to run our 24 helpline for seafarers, SeafarerHelp.

If you would like to fundraise for ISWAN please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN, talks about the challenges facing seafarers and seafarers' welfare


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seafarer 1Seafarers live tough and dangerous lives. They are away from their families for long periods and often do not get ashore for months. Many are from the developing world with their extended families dependent on them for paying for education and health care.

The International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) works to promote the welfare of seafarers worldwide. We advocate on behalf of seafarers for better welfare services and facilities in ports and onboard ships as well as providing direct services for seafarers.

We run a helpline for seafarers called SeafarerHelp. SeafarerHelp is a lifeline for seafarers who are in distress and need assistance. It is a vital link for people who are isolated and facing difficult circumstances. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Last year we assisted over 9700 seafarers and their families. For further information on SeafarerHelp see here.

ISWAN runs other projects that help seafarers. We provide important health information to seafarers on topics such as HIV prevention, healthy living, hygiene in the galley, and malaria. We run other projects to promote the welfare of seafarers worldwide.

ISWAN relies on charitable grants and donations for our work with seafarers and we need your help.

Can you donate today to help the lives of seafarers and their families? Thank you.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving


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ISWANN launch LRes (138 of 181)Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN writes :

The International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) warmly welcomes the coming into force of the Maritime Labour Convention on 20 August 2013. ISWAN firmly believes that the MLC will improve the lives and wellbeing of seafarers wherever they are in the world. The Convention provides a golden opportunity to raise awareness of seafarers' welfare throughout the maritime industry. ISWAN is committed to working in partnership with shipping companies, union, seafarers' welfare organisations, and governments to ensure that the MLC is fully implemented over the coming years.

In particular, ISWAN believes a lot needs to be done to see that Regulation 4.4 (access to shore-based welfare facilities) becomes a reality. Port owners and port authorities will need to become more aware of the MLC and realise that seafarers are key stakeholders, along with port workers, logistic companies, and shipping agents. Some ports, such as Singapore, Barcelona, Antwerp, and Kandla (past winners of the Port of the Year International Seafarers' Welfare Awards) work well with local seafarers welfare organisations and are models of good practice.

The MLC talks about welfare facilities 'where they exist'. However, it is important to establish welfare facilities and services in the growing new number of new ports around the world, particularly in countries such as India and China. ISWAN would also like to see more national welfare boards and local port welfare committees set up.

Funding of seafarers' welfare is a big issue as many welfare organisations struggle to survive. ISWAN would welcome the implementation of port levies to help fund sustainable welfare services and facilities. With seafarers being onboard for long periods, often with little opportunity for going ashore, a welfare worker visiting ships bringing phonecards and portable wifi is a vital lifeline. Indeed, communication with home is the number one welfare concern for seafarers. Ports and shipping companies need to do more to provide free or cheap access to email and internet for seafarers. Ports such as Antwerp, Montreal, and Dover now provide free access for seafarers to portwide wifi.

Seafarers are responsible for transporting 90% of the world's trade. They are often invisible and their vital role in the wider public's everyday lives unknown. The MLC provides a means of ensuring that seafarers are treated with the dignity and respect they richly deserve.

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The ISWAN seminar on port levies and welfare provisions in the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, held at The Baltic Exchange in London on 21 May 2013, brought together representatives from welfare organisations, shipping companies, unions, government, and academics to share and promote good practice on levies. The seminar heard different views from India, South Africa and UK on how levies can be set up and operated, and how challenges can be addressed through building relationships and collaboration between port authorities, welfare organisations and ship agents.

The report, Port levies and sustainable welfare for seafarers, commissioned by ISWAN was launched at the seminar. This report documents good practice on levies, and includes case studies on Kandla Port, India; Port of Balitimore, USA; Constantza Port, Romania; Ports of Tees and Hartlepool, UK; Port of Bremerhaven, Germany; and Port of Saldanha Bay, South Africa. It was evident from presentations and from the report, that funding from levies makes a vital contribution to the running of welfare services and facilities for seafarers, helping providers to plan service delivery and retain committed staff.

Presentations were given by Ben Bailey (Mission to Seafarers); Alexe Finlay (Secretary of the Tees & Hartlepool Port Users Association, UK); Dave MacDonald (Terminal Manager, ConocoPhilips, and Chairman, Tees and Hartlepool Port Users Association); Peter McEwen (Senior Policy Advisor, Nautilus International); Natalie Shaw (Director of Employment Affairs, International Chamber of Shipping); Duncan Starke (Committee Member of Mission to Seafarers, Durban); and Olivia Swift (author of Port levies and sustainable welfare for seafarers, and Research Associate, Greenwich Maritime Institute).

At the seminar, there was consensus that transparent administration of levies; having a robust decision making body; and being accountable for how levies are spent through reporting, were some factors essential to good practice. Most importantly, levy supported services had to meet the welfare needs of seafarers. Developing quality standards for welfare services was also discussed and the potential for this considered.

However, some speakers and participants also emphasised that levies should be part of wider fundraising efforts, and care should be taken to ensure that levies do not lead to governments and shipping companies not fulfilling their existing obligations on welfare. But also, from the perspective of shipping companies, that some companies choose to contribute in other ways, for example, making donations directly to a charity or mission.

A report on the seminar will be available in the next fortnight. A selection of presentations can be viewed below.

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ISWAN MedBookCover-page-001The International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) has just published Multilingual questions for the medical assessment and treatment of seafarers. This updated publication assists medical professionals, first officers, port health authorities and welfare workers, among others, with assessing and treating seafarers in emergency and non-emergency situations.

The booklet covers a range of medical areas including cardiac events, injuries to different parts of the body, and pain relating to specific conditions. Medical questions can be quickly and easily translated from English into Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Burmese, Chinese, Filipino, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN said, "Seafarers having access to medical help is a vital part of ensuring their welfare. Multilingual questions for the medical assessment and treatment of seafarers will improve communication and help seafarers receive the treatment they may need. We were pleased to have been able to collaborate with the International Maritime Health Association and the UK Merchant Navy Welfare Board in the production of ISWAN's first publication."

This booklet is free for welfare organisations, and is part of a range of materials promoting seafarers' health, including HIV and AIDS prevention, Fit on board, Safe travel and Mental care. Copies are being printed in the UK and India for global distribution. The publication has the full support of InterManager, and is funded by the ITF Seafarers' Trust. To order copies of Multilingual questions for the medical assessment and treatment of seafarers, and other health materials, visit the Seafarers' Health Information Programme (SHIP) shop

See below to download a flier for the booklet.

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The new international seafarers' welfare organisation, ISWAN, marked its official launch at a reception on 17 April in London. ISWAN, which stands for the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network held a reception at the Commonwealth Club in London with Ms Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the International Labour Standards Department of the International Labour Organisation and Mr Jim Fitzpatrick MP, former UK Minister of Shipping as the guests of honour. Also attending were Mr Efthymios Mitropoulos, former General Secretary of the IMO, and Mr David Cockcroft, the General Secretary of the International Transport Workers Federation.

Nearly one hundred people attended the reception. Attendees included shipping companies, unions, and welfare organisations. The audience heard Ms Doumbia-Henry say that China and Indonesia were expected to ratify the Maritime Labour Convention this year. She also said that the world economic system could not operate without seafarers. Ms Doumbia-Henry congratulated ISWAN on its launch. Mr Hennie La Grange, Acting Chair of ISWAN, said that the new organisation will promote the ratification and implementation of the MLC. Other speakers included ISWAN staff member Chester Quintal who spoke about SeafarerHelp, the 24 hour helpline run by ISWAN.

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