The Union works on many levels to ensure that the welfare needs of its members are being properly addressed.
Much work is undertaken at national level in organisations such as the Merchant Navy Welfare Board in the UK and is rightly considered at Branch Conference level. Pensions and social security issues contribute greatly to the wellbeing of our members and they form part of the branch agenda so are not repeated here.
More details can be found in the various Branch Conference reports available at the General Meeting.
The Council of Nautilus International is also the Trustee of the Nautilus Welfare Fund (a registered charity) and as such details are provided in this report of the charity’s activities.
The Nautilus Welfare Fund
The Nautilus Welfare Fund is a UK-registered charity administered by the Union. The charity offers a range of specialist services to support retired necessitous seafarers and their dependants, including accommodation services at Mariners’ Park, in Wallasey. The 16-acre site on the banks of the River Mersey is the focal point for the charity’s work. Here, there are 125 homes, mostly bungalows and apartments, plus a residential and nursing home, creating a unique maritime community.
Development of Trinity House Hub
To ensure the welfare of seafarers in need continues to be prioritised, Nautilus created a specialised facility - the Trinity House Hub - opened in 2014. The extra care housing scheme initially comprised 18 apartments for residents, as well as a range of communal facilities and 24/7 support staff.
The second phase of development - the Seafarers UK Centenary Wing - was opened by HRH The Earl of Wessex, in June 2017, creating an additional 22 apartments and significantly expanded the scale of accommodation the charity could offer. A games room was also added at the request of the residents.
Developing dementia services at Mariners' Park
The Nautilus Welfare Fund ensures that the care provided at Mariners’ Park continues to be of a high standard, with services continually improved and adapted to meet the changing needs of residents.
One such development was the new specialist wing within the care home to support individuals with significant levels of dementia. Specialist training was provided for the care team and the team was further strengthened in 2017 with the appointment of an Admiral Nurse – a specialist in dementia care, delivered in partnership with the Seafarers Hospital Society and Trinity House.
Nautilus also created a specialist dementia garden, where sufferers have the independence to enjoy the fresh air in a safe environment. This combination of care and support means Nautilus can offer a range of bespoke dementia services, both to residents and their families, one of the best ways to help those living with dementia.
Growing and modernising accomodation
Over the past five years, the charity has carried out extensive renovation work, replacing some of the older houses with modern two-bedroom bungalows. In February 2019, it opened John Fay House with the support of a significant grant from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Seafarers’ Trust. Three pairs of old semi-detached houses were replaced with 12 new apartments and a guest ensuite room, all fully accessible.
A focus for the charity has been the development of accommodation for veteran merchant mariners, those who have supported the British Armed forces in times of conflict. Thanks to help from the Aged Veterans Fund, two new bungalows and two new apartments have been built specifically for them.
One of the key concerns for retired seafarers is that their financial situation can sometimes be precarious and sporadic. Therefore, the charity provides a caseworker service in Merseyside, Hull and Grimsby, to visit them in their own homes and ensure they are receiving the welfare benefits and grants they are entitled to. In 2017, the service was extended to Glasgow and there are plans for another in Belfast. The Nautilus caseworker service is supported by Seafarers UK and Aged Veterans Fund.
In 2017 alone, Nautilus caseworkers supported 420 seafarers and generated almost £1,000,000 for them in benefits and grants. Many retired seafarers are now thousands of pounds a year better off because of the programme.
FNV Nautilus Career Advice Centre Werkenaanwerk
In 2017, Nautilus partnered with FNV to set up a Rotterdam-based FNV-Nautilus union advice centre within the national FNV ‘Werkenaanwerk’ project.
The initiative was developed to support maritime professionals to refocus their careers and get them back in the workforce, as well as help Nautilus and FNV to recruit members.
Nautilus and FNV received a subsidy from the Dutch government to experiment with a local and sectoral trade union role in career counselling for maritime professionals. The programme worked with those requiring assistance, to find out what skills they had and what type of position they were looking for. It also acted as an advice centre to help maritime professionals in danger of dismissal or those who had recently lost their job. They were also provided with guidance on new training, job placement and coaching.
Through Werkenaanwerk, Nautilus has been able to offer high quality career counselling and support as an innovative and empowering new service to various personnel, including cadets and maritime professionals reintegrating into the profession or moving from work at sea to a shore job.
As a subsidised project, Werkenaanwerk was in operation from January 2017 until December 2018, during which the service was also open to non- members with no costs involved. The exercise ended in January 2019 with very good results and the service is currently being integrated into regular FNV and Nautilus trade union work, which is restricted to members.