Liverpool Seafarers Centre Wins Top ISWAN Award

John Wilson accepts ISWAN award
John Wilson, Chief Executive of LSC, accepts ISWAN award

Published Sep 12, 2019 6:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Liverpool Seafarers Centre (LSC) has been crowned the world’s best seafarer center at an awards ceremony held as part of London International Shipping Week.

The winners of the International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards 2019 were revealed at the end of Inmarsat’s exclusive Crew Welfare event for London International Shipping Week. Organized by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), the awards give seafarers the chance to say thank you to the companies, organizations and individuals who have provided them with the highest quality welfare services and facilities. For the first time in the awards’ history, seafarers this year judged the shortlisted entries and decided the winners as well as making the initial nominations.

LSC, based in Crosby and Eastham on the Wirral, was singled out by the International Seafarers' Welfare Awards due to the exceptional care it offers visiting seafarers and their families. LSC finished top ahead of seafarer centers in America in Houston and Philadelphia as well as Sydney Australia and Tauranga, New Zealand.

LSC is a partnership between the Catholic Apostleship of the Sea (Liverpool) and the Anglican Mersey Mission to Seafarers. Its history dates back to the 19th century.

Feedback from judges and those who use the center described it as a “home from home” staffed by the friendliest volunteers who go above and beyond and expect nothing in return. The Seafarer Centre of the Year is voted for by seafarers, 50,000 of whom use the center’s services in Liverpool and along the River Mersey every year. This includes providing emotional support, including offering a clinical psychologist, for those where life has become too difficult to handle in normal talks. It also offers practical assistance such as access to WIFI, money exchange and a physical base on land for crew members whose vessels have docked in the city.

The nominations from seafarers noted the center’s early opening and late finish and their “fantastic and friendly” staff who always extend a warm welcome. One seafarer said: “We really need seafarers centers like Liverpool Seafarers Centre all around the world." Another said: “Our ships regularly visit Liverpool. The seafarers center is the best I have come across, and the volunteers are some of the friendliest I have met. Having seen many centers around the world, very few match the warmth and welcome of Liverpool’s.”  

Other awards

The ISWAN Award for Outstanding Support of Seafarers’ Wellbeing, was presented to Shell Ship Management. ISWAN’s expert advisers, who decided the shortlist, were very impressed with Shell’s Resilience program and the company’s contribution to improving the wider industry’s response to mental health at sea. Shell was given this special award in recognition of this work.

Teekay Shipping was crowned Shipping Company of the Year. The company provides free internet to all its ships and a support line for seafarers experiencing challenges in their work of personal life. The company provides modern gym equipment onboard and social interaction is encouraged with onboard team competitions. Teekay also involves families back home with events, competitions and support in the event of emergencies and provides medical coverage for all seafarers and their dependents.

The Port of Singapore was named Port of the Year. The Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) works closely with partners in welfare services to ensure seafarers can maximize their time in port, including jointly developing an on-demand bus service. MPA organizes learning tours to offer seafarers with limited time the chance to visit places of interest in Singapore and provides 24/7 medical advice and evacuation for seafarers requiring immediate medical attention. Maritime Welfare Fees collected from vessels visiting the Port of Singapore are used to improve welfare facilities and services for seafarers.

The Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year went to Garry South. South is on call 24 hours a day as a Port Chaplain for Port Hedland Seafarers Centre in Australia, which sees 30,000 seafarers each year. He visits an average of two ships per day and provides bereavement counselling in the aftermath of six to eight fatalities on average each year in ships visiting Port Hedland. He also handles complaints from seafarers about working conditions on board, makes hospital visits, provides transport to visiting seafarers, raises funds for the center, and organizes 2,000 Christmas gift bags to be distributed to 90 ships in the two weeks over Christmas.

Inmarsat was host and headline sponsor of this year’s International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards. The awards were also made possible by the following sponsors: the International Chamber of Shipping (The Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year Award), Wrist Ship Supply (Seafarer Centre of the Year Award), Garrets (Shipping Company of the Year Award), MF Shipping Group (Port of the Year Award), ShipMoney and the International Christian Maritime Association.