At a conference in Liverpool on Thursday Maritime Minister Robert Courts will unveil a £2.4m project to support the wellbeing of seafarers. Tony McDonough reports
A £2.4m project to support the wellbeing of seafarers will be announced in Liverpool on Thursday by Maritime Minister Robert Courts.
Speaking at the Maritime Exchange, organised by Mersey Maritime at Liverpool Town Hall, Mr Courts is also launching the ‘Recovery Route Map’. This will outline how the Government will help the maritime sector recover from the pandemic.
Also speaking in Liverpool in 2021, Mark Dickinson, general secretary of seafarers union, Nautilus International, also urged the Government to do more for seafarers. He highlighted how hundreds of thousands of seafarers were left stranded at sea, often thousands of miles from home, during the pandemic.
There was outrage in March when ferry operator P&O sacked 800 of its workers with immediate effect. Its routes include Liverpool to Dublin. P&O faced a barrage of criticism for the move by unions politicians and industry leaders, including Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke.
On Thursday Mr Courts will outline how the Government will provide funding for three organisations. This will support projects supporting seafarers’ wellbeing and maritime skills, diversity and careers.
He will also announce the funding will support a review of ‘ratings’ training. This is for roles such as deck, engine room, hospitality and catering in the maritime industry. The review will be carried out by the Maritime Skills Commission.
As recognised in the Government’s Maritime 2050 report, seafarers’ welfare and mental health remains a serious issue. These challenges have exposed a need to better understand welfare issues for seafarers. There are organisations who support seafarers including Merseyside-based Liverpool Seafarers Centre.
Mr Courts said: “Seafarer wellbeing is at the heart of our Maritime 2050 agenda. We know that mental health difficulties at sea affect thousands of seafarers. We are committed to tackling this, and building a diverse, highly skilled and exciting sector across the board – from shipbuilders to bosuns.
“This funding will help us tackle this problem by supporting the excellent work being done by charities and social organisations, and foster new programmes. I am also pleased to be launching our Recovery Route Map. This will help to build a resilient, innovative and future facing maritime sector for generations to come.”
The seafarer protection nine-point plan, published in March, has already set out plans to establish a new framework to improve the long-term working conditions of seafarers. This was developed in consultation with industry and unions.
Stuart Rivers, chief executive of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, added: “This significant investment in the maritime charity sector is both timely and extremely welcome.
“The maritime charities sector has been supporting seafarers through multiple crises over the past two years, despite the difficult fundraising conditions. The Department for Transport’s funding will provide a real boost to seafarers’ welfare and enable improvements in skills and diversity for the wider sector.”