The International Committee on Seafarers Welfare (ICSW) and the International Seafarers Assistance Network (ISAN) have formally decided to merge. A new force for the provision of welfare to seafarers, the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) will emerge. The new charity and limited company will begin its operations in April 2013.
The Boards of both ISCW and ISWAN have this week, after having secured the vital support of its major stakeholders and funders, decided to forge ahead with the process. The ICSW’s members voiced their overwhelming support at an Extraordinary General Meeting in London.
The new body for seafarers’ welfare appears at an opportune moment: with the implementation date of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 due in August 2013, ISWAN will be well placed to respond to the opportunities and challenges posed by the Convention.
ISWAN will remain a member-based organisation. The International Christian Maritime Association’s membership is as crucial as ever. ICMA’s missions are all members of ISWAN by default, as was the case with its predecessor, the ICSW. The ICSW has relied heavily on and gained much from ICMA’s support. At present, ICMA’s General Secretary, Hennie la Grange, is acting chair or the ICSW. ICMA members provide a vital link to seafarers at the coal face, delivering personalised pastoral care on ships , in ports and at home, enabling fast feedback on seafarers’ needs. With SeafarerHelp incorporated, ISWAN will enhance its direct contact with seafarers and will be able to fast-track referrals to caregivers and response agencies like ICMA. It will also be able to report to ICMA on the developing trends among seafarers’ needs, and help us to assist effectively, while in turn it would provide a platform for our feedback to SeafarerHelp to improve efficiency.
ISWAN will be as valuable to ICMA as the ICSW had been in providing a place where international agencies who care for the welfare of seafarers meet and network. ICMA will use ISWAN to enhance its contacts and relations with trade unions, shipping companies, funders and other responders to the needs of merchant seafarers worldwide.
Roger Harris issued a statement on behalf of the two charities:
The new organisation will advocate for the development of seafarer welfare boards nationally and at port level as well as pressing for more funding for welfare facilities and services in ports. ISWAN will also be looking at greater access by seafarers to internet while at sea and in port, using port levies for seafarers welfare, health promotion for seafarers, and other initiatives that will benefit seafarers.
The new organisation is supported by the International Shipping Federation, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, and the International Christian Maritime Association.
ICMA welcomes the emergence of the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN). The ICMA Executive Committee has committed its support on behalf of the Association.