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About us

Seafarers who find themselves in a difficult situation or require support or assistance can contact SeafarerHelp, provided by the charity International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), who offer a free and confidential service, Whether it's dealing with bullying, un-paid wages, poor working/living conditions or just someone to talk to SeafarerHelp is completely free and confidential for all seafarers and their families around the world. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and in all the main languages spoken by Seafarers including Russian, Tagalog and Hindi.

As well as being available to help seafarers, SeafarerHelp also provides assistance to other maritime agencies by working alongside them to help resolve the issues, as you will see in the following feedback we receive:

"I got a call from a seafarer in the Middle East asking for help. It was very difficult to understand him. I called SeafarerHelp, gave them the telephone number of the seafarers and they took the case in their hands"

"I have always appreciated the help given and the way those referred have been treated"

"Thank you for the valuable service/contribution to the lives of seafarers, they really do need people who are prepared to listen to them, no matter how big or small the problem seems to be."

"We have 8 computers in our centre and on four of them I have your website as
home page"

If you would like to know more about the work of the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network please visit our website at www.seafarerswelfare.org

What we do

Many requests are for help with simple problems: for example a lost wallet in port, sickness, contacting family. Others are more sensitive, such as advice on how to cope with bullying on board ship, or a dispute over pay or terms of employment.

There are also serious and complex cases. Sometimes we have helped in an emergency - for example, we coordinated advice and rescue for a sailor who almost lost a leg in an accident on board ship. There have been several cases of ships that have abandoned crews in port, without pay or flights home, and SeafarerHelp was asked by crew members to contact agencies that could bring practical assistance. And there have been calls from seafarers anxious about whether their terms of employment required them to sail in troubled waters, or who have been traumatised after captivity by pirates. The following case study is just one example of the good work undertaken by the team at SeafarerHelp:

"We were contacted by a port chaplain in the Philippines who inquired if we can help an injured Filipino seafarer onboard a cargo ship along the Indian Ocean as he just received an emergency call from a crew member. An explosion apparently occurred in the engine room and a seafarer had his arm so badly injured near the point of being severed and was losing a lot of blood, obviously in a life threatening situation. The port chaplain gave us the ship’s satellite phone number. We dialled the number and spoke to the captain who briefed us on the situation. The ship was hundreds of nautical miles off the coast of the Indian subcontinent which is the nearest shore.

We immediately alerted the Indian coastguard. The Indian coastguard radioed the ship and gave the ship’s medical officer a reminder of his first aid treatment skills to prevent the injured seafarer from bleeding to death. They also ordered the captain to change course towards the general direction of Mumbai. An Indian coastguard fast boat was hurriedly dispatched to meet the ship in the ocean.

The injured seafarer was eventually transferred to the fast boat which headed to Mumbai while the ship reverted towards its original destination. The injured seafarer was treated in a Mumbai hospital. A week later, he was flown to the Philippines and recovered well. "


The SeafarerHelp service is now provided by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN). Previously from 2000 until 01/04/13 it was provided by the International Seafarers Assistance Network, but that charity merged with the International Committee on Seafarers Welfare on 01/04/13 to form the new charity International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN). The SeafarerHelp service was formed in 2000 by representatives from seafarer charities, trade unions, and shipping employers in the UK. ISWAN operates from London and is governed by a voluntary board of Trustees.

Funding has been provided by grants from three charitable foundations that are concerned with the welfare of seafarers.

Our experienced and multi-lingual helpdesk staff can also provide a call-centre service for other organisations with compatible aims. Enquiries about this service should be directed to the Executive Director, ISWAN.

Make a donations

Your generous charity donation will help keep the valuable service we provide to Seafarers, their families and other maritime organisations supported well in to the future. We rely on voluntary charity donations and funding to deliver this invaluable service. Without help from people like you, our work could not continue.

Dig deep as any amount can make a huge difference. Without help from people like you, our work could not continue.

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