A fund that supports charities caring for UK Merchant Navy (MN) seafarers and their families – including the Nautilus Welfare Fund – is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
Since its inception in 2012, the Merchant Navy Fund has received donations, legacies and corporate support totalling £720,000, with over £700k awarded in grants to UK serving or retired MN seafarers in need and their families.
The Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) and The Seafarers' Charity launched the Fund following an idea from MNWB’s then-chief executive Captain David Parsons, who felt 'there should be a benevolent fund for the Merchant Navy to give our people a chance to support those from our own background'.
The fund recognised that some older seafarers faced retirement with few savings and little or no pension, and younger individuals and families may need support for varied reasons, including the loss of a partner, serious illness and mental health issues.
The grants awarded demonstrate commitment to a diverse section of projects that support the health and wellbeing of seafarers. These include £13,000 for the Nautilus Welfare Fund to create a dementia-friendly garden at Mariners' Park Estate Care Home and a bike hub for other residents living on the estate.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Fund also awarded many grants to support the most vulnerable MN seafarers affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
Events coming up in the Merchant Navy Fund calendar include its Spring Appeal during April, and UK organisations will be encouraged to fly the Red Ensign as usual on the annual Merchant Navy Day on 3 September.