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Interview with Nautilus Welfare Fund: Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year (Organisation) 2018

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Our International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards recognise the individuals, organisations and companies who have made an outstanding contribution to seafarers’ welfare.

In a series of interviews this month, we’re talking to the winners of 2018’s awards, which were presented at our ceremony in Geneva back in April. This week, we’re talking to Mick Howarth, Welfare Services Manager at the Nautilus Welfare Fund, which won 2018’s Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year (Organisation) award.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the organisation you represent.

The Nautilus Welfare Fund is a registered Charity that supports retired seafarers and their dependants. It has been providing accommodation and care to needy mariners since 1857, when it was known as the Mercantile Marine Services Association. Mick Howarth is the Welfare Services Manager responsible for the day to day running of the Charity. He is a qualified Social Worker with a background in Adult Social Services where he specialised in developing services and accommodation for older and disabled persons.

What welfare services and facilities does the Nautilus Welfare Fund provide for seafarers?

The focal point for the Charity’s work is Mariners’ Park situated on the banks of the River Mersey, with views across to the iconic Liverpool waterfront. The 16-acre Park is the perfect location for the retirement village. On site is a residential and nursing home with 32 places, a 40-place extra care apartment scheme and 87 bungalows and apartments for more independent living. The Charity operates its own Home Care Service to residents on the Park and employs 3 Activity Coordinators to ensure a wide range of activities and events are always available. In total there are over 180 retired mariners and their dependents living at Mariners’ Park. In addition, the Charity provides financial grants for essential household items and repairs to mariners as well as an outreach Caseworker Service.

mariners park

Mariners' Park (Source: nautiluswelfarefund.org)

What feedback have you had from retired seafarers about your welfare services and facilities?

The annual satisfaction survey consistently reveals a positive picture of the facilities and services on offer, and the staff who provide them.

  • 100% say they get value for money from the accommodation and service.
  • 98% say they feel ‘safe and secure’ at the Park.
  • 97% say they enjoy the organised activities and trips out.
  • 98% say the grounds are well maintained and attractive.
  • 93% say repairs are dealt with promptly.
  • 95% say staff treat them with dignity and respect.

Which of the organisation’s projects or achievements are you proudest of?

The Charity is constantly striving to ensure our accommodation and services are ‘relevant’ to the needs of today’s Mariners. Recent ‘high points’ include:

  • The opening of Trinity House Hub, including the Seafarers UK Centenary Wing, providing 40 extra care apartments, and a wide range of communal facilities including gym, cafe, games room and resident lounge.
  • The development of specialist services to support those facing the challenges of dementia including the dementia wing in the Care Home and the Admiral Nurse post to offer advice and support to families and those with dementia.
  • The continued expansion of the outreach caseworker service, now in four locations in the UK, ensuring mariners receive all the benefits and financial support they are entitled to. Over 400 Mariners have benefited from this in 2017, with over £900,000 secured.
trinity house hub original hero

Trinity House Hub (Source: David Oates, nautiluswelfarefund.org)

What effect has winning the Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year (Organisation) award had on your organisation?

It was a very proud moment for the Charity to receive its award in Geneva in April 2018. It has proved an enormous boost to morale amongst the staff to have their hard work and dedication recognised at an international level, and it has further enhanced the Charity’s reputation as a provider of high-quality services for retired Mariners, and a ‘beacon of excellence’ within the Maritime world. There has been increased interest in other Charities coming to see the services and support we provide due to the publicity the award has generated.

Why is the role of organisations like the Nautilus Welfare Fund so important in seafarers’ welfare?

Seafarers consistently report that they prefer to receive accommodation and care services from an organisation that understands their needs, and where they can access the camaraderie and understanding of fellow seafarers. Mariners’ Park provides that opportunity. Future demographic trends show an ageing seafaring population, especially in the over 75s and 85year olds, so it is crucial organisations continue to shape their services to meet this challenge.

What plans does the Nautilus Welfare Fund have for the future?

Plans at the Nautilus Welfare Fund for the future include:

  • Completing a further 12 new apartments at Mariners’ Park in January 2019, as well as providing a new guest facility
  • A further 26 apartments are planned to open in 2021, increasing the numbers of older mariners that can be supported
  • The caseworker service will be expanded by an additional post to provide support to mariners in Northern Ireland, ensuring they receive the benefits and financial support they are entitled to.

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