June 27, 2022

Maritime Welfare Charities pull together to support ex P&O Ferries staff

Maritime welfare charities are pulling together to publicise the support available to seafarers who have been made redundant, including ex P&O Ferries staff.

The Maritime Charities Group Redundancy and Retraining Bursary provides help towards the cost of training to stay in maritime while The Seafarers’ Charity‘s UK Maritime Anchor Fund provides financial help, relationship counselling and mental health and wellbeing support. Taken together this package of measures is helping seafarers who are out of work and experiencing hardship to get back on their feet and into employment.

Between them the charities have helped 138 seafarers so far to the tune of over £66k.

Speaking about the two initiatives, Commander Graham Hockley LVO RN, Chairman of MCG, said: 'Both these initiatives have been a real success. Together we have enabled so many seafarers who have lost work, including those made redundant by P&O Ferries, to get back on their feet. This is an excellent example of what the maritime welfare charity sector can do when it pulls together. We are extremely proud of the way we have collaborated to support seafarers at this difficult time and hope to see more joint working across the sector in the future.'

The MCG fund was set up in November 2020 in response to the growing number of seafarers losing work due to Covid-19. It has now helped 100 seafarers. The fund is backed by MCG members the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) and Trinity House, with additional support from the Nautilus Slater Fund, and is administered by the Marine Society on their behalf. It provides up to £500 for training and refresher courses to UK-based seafarers who have lost work during the Pandemic and was due to close at the end of March this year but stayed open to meet growing demand.

The UK Maritime Anchor Fund was created in 2020 to provide an end-to-end package of support for seafarers experiencing financial hardship due to loss of work or disruption of employment.

The fund aims to address financial difficulties and their impact by providing support from Citizens Advice - experts in debt and money management, Relate – experts in personal relationships, and Togetherall – experts in mental health. It is available to UK merchant seafarers of working age and can be accessed through the Seafarers’ Advice and Information Line (SAIL), the only Citizens Advice service for seafarers. So far the Anchor Fund has helped 38 seafarers including 16 referrals to Togetherall and 5 to Relate.

Deborah Layde, CEO Designate at The Seafarers’ Charity said: 'Hundreds of seafarers have been hit by sudden changes at P&O Ferries. Many will be adversely affected and need support, perhaps for the very first time. The Anchor Fund can help with family or relationship counselling, signposting to welfare services and access to grants to cover increased welfare needs. Many ex-P&O Ferries seafarers have been helped by the Fund and we just want to make sure that others in the same position know it’s there for them too.'

Case studies

Anchor Fund

Janice, a merchant navy seafarer, was made redundant from P&O Ferries after a 30-year career working for them. She had been living off her redundancy pay and had only £300 left in her savings when she contacted SAIL. They helped Janice to apply to the Anchor Fund for help and she was awarded a grant of £1200. This gave her enough to live on until she received Universal Credit and enabled her to retrain to teach inland waterways water sports.

MCG Bursary

Liz joined P&O Ferries in 2021 as an engineering officer and was made redundant in March this year. She said: 'For a few weeks after the announcement I was really very lost. I felt like my world had been turned upside down as I'd really loved working on the ship but was and am still very upset about how my colleagues and I had been treated. I decided that I didn't want to go back to sea.

I'd looked through job adverts and saw that in roles I found most interesting having project management qualifications was a significant advantage. A connection on LinkedIn reminded me of the MCG Redundancy and Retraining Fund and I decided to apply to cover the cost of the APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) exam.

Being able to mention that I’m studying for the PMQ in applications and in interviews does give me an advantage over other candidates and I’m currently being considered for my dream role.

I’m incredibly thankful for the bursary, not just because of the money, but also for giving me some sense of direction at a time when I really didn't know what to do.'

All names have been changed.

Find out more about MCG Redundancy and Retraining Bursary Fund and how to apply Find out more about help available to ferry workers from SAIL