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I took over as chief executive at the International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) in June 2021, as the organisation was settling into the new normal after 15 months of extraordinary demand for our services due to the pandemic.
Our core service – SeafarerHelp – really came into its own during the pandemic, providing free, confidential, 24/7/365, multilingual support and guidance to seafarers as they grappled with everything Covid-19 could throw at them. Demand is still twice what it was before the pandemic and shows no sign of diminishing, but we have learnt to cope and have built on the valuable experience it brought us.
As I write, another crisis is unfolding in Ukraine, and once again, seafarers will be expected to maintain the world's supply chains in the face of enormous uncertainty. Some will be desperate about the plight of their loved ones, others will be in fear of becoming an innocent casualty, while others may find that their financial situation has changed overnight. ISWAN and our friends in the maritime welfare sector are doing our utmost to provide whatever we can in the way of support.
The pandemic has taught us that together we really are stronger, so ISWAN's new strategy is predicated on collaboration and cooperation. Our services will always be guided by what is in the best interests of seafarers and their families, whether through SeafarerHelp, Yacht Crew Help, the revitalised Seafarers' Emergency Fund or our operational teams in India, the Philippines and Nigeria.
We also want to work more closely with the industry, and from time to time might be the grit in their eye, but we are all in this together and seafarers deserve nothing less.
- For more on ISWAN's services, visit seafarerswelfare.org