The International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) deals with a number of cases where seafarers find themselves in an emergency situation and in such circumstances the seafarer may be eligible for a grant from The Seafarers' Emergency Fund. The fund was set up by the TK Foundation and the ITF Seafarers' Trust, and its aim is "to provide immediate, essential aid to seafarers and families of seafarers, who are directly involved in sudden and unforeseen crises". Welfare organisations have to apply to the Seafarers Emergency Fund for the grant on behalf of the seafarer.
In 2015 there were nineteen applications to the Seafarers Emergency Fund of which fourteen were approved and administered by ISWAN. Here is one such case:
Jon* contacted SeafarerHelp, ISWAN's free Helpline, to seek advice about a compensation claim against his employer for medical expenses. He became ill, following an injury whilst working in a storm at sea, and was suffering from loss of memory and appetite. His temperature was dangerously high, consequently he was sent home. After consulting a doctor, it became clear that the seafarer's lungs had been affected and that he required an operation on one of his kidneys.
The SeafarerHelp officer in charge of the case spoke to Jon in his own language and gave him the details of his local Sailor's Society chaplain who would be able to visit him. He then contacted Jon's nearest ITF inspector with information about the case. The local chaplain maintained contact with the SeafarerHelp team throughout.
The seafarer later had an operation to remove his kidney, but could no longer work and therefore required financial assistance to cover his medical bills. After consulting with a lawyer, it was made clear that compensation was unlikely. The chaplain contacted SeafarerHelp to express his concerns for the seafarer and his situation and he was advised to apply for The Seafarers' Emergency Fund on Jon's behalf. The application was successful and the seafarer was granted USD 1150 to help pay for his treatment.
* Name anonymised