BIC is pleased to announce that the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) is this year’s recipient of the BIC Award. Presented at a gala evening at Naples Shipping Week, the award was received by ISWAN CEO Simon Grainge. The award was presented by BIC Secretary General Douglas Owen, assisted by Italian Coast Guard Commandant and Chairman of the Italian Seafarer’s Welfare Association, Vice Admiral Nicola Carlone.
Best known for its “SeafarerHelp” service, a 24-hour/365-day confidential multilingual helpline, ISWAN has been providing support for seafarers since its founding in 2013. ISWAN also provides hardship grants for seafarers in crisis, develops resources on seafarer welfare and offers training on managing maritime mental health. The organization helps seafarers facing abandonment, detention, suicidal thoughts, health issues, family crises or by simply providing advice or a listening ear.
Between February 2020 and February 2022, ISWAN provided support to over 50,000 seafarers during a time when COVID-19 prevented many from seeing their families for months or even years on end. During this same period, ISWAN supported over 21,000 seafarers with repatriation and collaborated with industry and other maritime welfare organizations to form the Seafarers International Relief Fund.
“The BIC Award was founded to recognize outstanding achievement in the areas of safety, security, standardization and sustainability, and ISWAN clearly qualifies in more than one of those categories,” stated BIC secretary general Douglas Owen. “Seafarers, of which there are 1.6 million, face challenges unlike workers in almost any other industry: far from home and support networks, often lacking proper healthcare or support in defending their rights. The need to support our seafarers and their families, to look after seafarers’ physical and mental health, has never been greater, with the twin crises of COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine being just the most recent challenges.”
ISWAN’s CEO Simon Grainge said: ‘We are incredibly proud to receive this award. Our helpline team and international staff worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support the seafarers and families affected, but we are always here, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for anyone who needs us. We are constantly improving our services – adding new helpline contact channels, undertaking further training for our staff and working with our partners in the maritime welfare sector – to ensure that seafarers and their families around the world receive the best possible support when they need it most.’