A UK maritime charity referral service, supported by Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity funding, has hit major milestones in 2016. 

Seafarer Support, the central point of contact and referral service for the UK maritime charity sector, has recently had cause to celebrate reaching not just one but a number of important milestones in 2016. 

Its niche, multi-channel referral service, which includes its award-winning online search engine the ‘Maritime Charities Welfare Guide’, has witnessed well over 50,000 searches from the Merchant Navy (53,310), Royal Navy (12,994), Royal Marines (5,067) and the Fishing (11,039) communities. Furthermore, its free helpline has continued to receive calls (4,066) from people seeking help or advice on welfare issues. These not only include calls from within the maritime sector but also from non-maritime organisations such as Social Services.   

Origins and charity-backing

Seafarer Support is managed, on behalf of the sector, and part funded by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) in partnership with Seafarers UK, MNWB, Trinity House and The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. It was created as a result of recommendations made by the highly praised ‘Supporting seafarers and their families: challenges for the future’ report that was published in 2009. 

Capt. David Parsons, MNWB Chief Executive and previous Chair of MCFG states: "Life is complex and this is reflected in the number and range of welfare providers and services available to those in need. There are around 150 charities providing a plethora of welfare support services to the UK maritime community. As a result, the MCFG report recognised that a multi-dimensional, collaborative approach with improved, shared information was needed to better help resolve welfare concerns. 

"Seafarer Support enhances welfare support by providing a valuable referral and outreach service to seafarers and their families who are looking for help and guidance. We are continually concerned that too many within the maritime community, particularly those living outside port areas, may be slipping through the charity net.  The service strives to close these gaps and is committed to raising the profile and improving access to the entire UK maritime charity sector." 

Photo (left to right): Seafarer Support welfare team consisting of Sally Oliver and Louis Furber, raise their glasses to celebrate the ongoing success of Seafarer Support

Telephone and online services

Seafarer Support started as a website and free telephone helpline but it was soon realised that a more proactive, innovative online approach was required to improve communication and engage with modern information technology. To that end a search engine was created. This online guide had an immediate, positive impact on the usage of the service offering a simple to use alternative method for clients to contact and search for help. 

Although the funders and operational team are pleased with the progress of Seafarer Support they are not resting on their laurels. The service is being expanded to raise even more awareness of maritime charities, particularly in the non-maritime sector, and continues to move forward with plans to participate in various high-profile charity events. Seafarer Support has already attended the British Association of Social Workers conference and will attend ‘The Gathering’ of Scottish charities in Glasgow. In addition, the online search engine has undergone a total redesign to optimise use

In addition, the online search engine has undergone a total redesign to optimise use on tablets and smartphones. Depending on usage Seafarer Support will also consider the production of IOS and Android Applications in the future.

Access Seafarer Support: seafarersupport.org or freephone 0800 121 4765

Further information

For further information contact:  Peter Tomlin, Deputy Chief Executive, Merchant Navy Welfare Board on 07711016700 or 02380337799 or [email protected] or Alastair Whitfield, Merchant Navy Welfare Board Projects Administrator, 02380337799  or [email protected]