Seeking support after an accident at sea

January 19, 2021
Mark and his family at the ISWAN Philippines office in Manila

When a seafarer or their family are involved in a sudden and unforeseen situation, they may require financial support. In cases where no other help is available, the Seafarers Emergency Fund (SEF) can provide immediate, essential aid. When Mark was unable to work due to an injury on board, he needed urgent financial assistance to pay his three children’s school fees.

While performing his duties as a chief cook, Mark felt sudden stomach pain. The master and local coastguard arranged for him to see a doctor ashore who diagnosed him with a stomach ulcer. Mark was relieved that his condition was not serious and could be treated easily.

However, as Mark climbed the ladder from the ferry to board his vessel after his check-up, a strong wind and waves made the boat move and caused the ladder to twist. Mark felt pain in his lower back and immediately told the master, who decided Mark should be repatriated to seek medical attention.

After several tests, Mark was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury. Unable to work, he had no income to pay for his three children’s school fees or supplies for the school year ahead. Mark was working with the crewing agency to arrange financial support but he was worried that his children might not be able to continue their studies, so he contacted ISWAN’s regional office in the Philippines.

ISWAN Philippines applied on Mark’s behalf to the Seafarers Emergency Fund and a grant was approved to cover the year’s education costs for Mark’s children, including fees, supplies and transport. The ISWAN Philippines team also referred the case to the Associated Marine Officers and Seafarers' Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) to organise medical assistance.

On the day that Mark heard that the SEF grant had been approved, he took his three children to the ISWAN Philippines office so they could meet the team. The family was grateful for the support they had received and Mark hoped to be strong enough to return to sea soon.

For more information about the Seafarers Emergency Fund and how to apply, please click here. A welfare organisation or trade union must apply on the seafarer/seafarers’ family’s behalf. The Fund is jointly provided by The TK Foundation, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and Seafarers UK, and is administered by ISWAN.

If you are a seafarer and need help in a crisis, you can contact our free, confidential, 24-hour helpline, SeafarerHelp, for guidance and support. All contact details can be found at

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