International Port Welfare Partnership

The International Port Welfare Partnership (IPWP) is an ISWAN pilot project funded by the Seafarers’ Trust and managed by the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB). The project aims to encourage and support the establishment of welfare boards worldwide.


Welfare Boards provide a forum for maritime organisations to regularly meet and support seafarers’ port welfare services and facilities in order to improve seafarers’ lives. At the national level, National Seafarers’ Welfare Boards (NSWB) coordinate seafarers’ welfare within a sovereign territory. Providing the eyes and ears on the ground, however, are the Port Welfare Committees (PWC) which coordinate seafarers’ welfare at a regional or local port level. A main task carried out by the PWC’s is to establish port levy schemes which help sustain the funding of welfare facilities and services such as seafarers’ centres and port transport. In considering applications to the Trust for grants, consultation with PWC’s plays a key part of the process of determining the merits of any potential grantee. The pilot project aims to support the establishment of welfare boards worldwide by:

◦ Establishing a Project Executive Committee consisting of representatives from Government (Maritime Authorities), Ship Owners, Unions, Port Authorities and Voluntary Organisations.

◦ Developing mutually agreed protocols and quality standards for the establishment, development and maintenance of Welfare Boards on a global basis, accepting that a ‘one size’ rule will not fit all.

◦ Establishing the details and operational effectiveness of existing Welfare Boards worldwide, and identifying potentially interested project participants.

◦ Evaluating and monitoring port welfare services, facilities and contacts utilising MNWB’s “bespoke” port welfare database software.

◦ Providing a ‘central’ or ‘single’ point of contact and web based facility to gauge the level of interest in project participation in order to help a small number of countries establish Welfare Boards.

◦ Actively encouraging, where appropriate, the establishment of port levy schemes and/or donations as a means of supporting bone fide organisations providing seafarers’ welfare activities.

◦ Preparing, promoting and seeking sponsors for a larger, more comprehensive international Welfare Boards development programme.

◦ Establishing and supporting at least five Welfare Boards in as many different countries, encourage project participation and increase membership of ISWAN.

Legal backing

In accordance with the establishment of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) in 2006, Regulation 4.4 makes specific provision for ‘access to shore-based welfare facilities and its associated standards and guidelines’. The MLC – more commonly referred to as the ‘seafarers’ bill of rights’ – therefore plays an important in securing basic rights and freedoms for all seafarers.

The importance of facilitation

Welfare Boards provide a low cost means of helping facilitate and coordinate the effective interventions of many different providers of welfare services to seafarers. As the sector moves its way through the unchartered waters of bigger ships, longer times spent at sea and shorter port turnaround times, it is important that information is shared and best practice identified. As a result of its vast operational experience in establishing Welfare Boards, the Trust has the upmost confidence in the ability of the MNWB to administer the project successfully.

In helping us move forward Seafarers UK has been brought on board as Project Funding Co-ordinator. Seafarers UK will be seeking funding partners to help expand the pilot and succeed in securing future funding for the scheme.

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