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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 106 (Suppl.-I), April 2008




AOS Pastoral Outreach


Mr. Andrew Elliott

ICSW Administrator


1.         The ICSW 

a.         What – an international charity that provides tools and support to frontline welfare agencies (ICSW members) to achieve the objective:

to promote the relief of need, hardship or distress amongst seafarers of all nationalities, races, colours and creeds’ 

b.       Who – 39 member organisations all with an interest in the care of seafarers 

c.       Where -  

2nd Floor, Forsyth House

77 Clarendon Road

Watford, WD17 1DS


United Kingdom

Tel:  +44 1923 222653

Fax:  +44 1923 222663



2.         Pastoral Care is delivered through the ICSW’s 4 main areas of operations:

a.         Membership support – mutual support and networking with the objective of providing the best help possible to seafarers by helping agencies to focus on their specific areas of expertise and not having to be ‘jack of all trades and master of none’

b.         Projects - divided into 2 subsections:

i.          Tools for frontline seafarers’ welfare agencies and personnel:

  • Twinning Centres programme – share knowledge, build relationships and learn from each other
  • Training – Ship Welfare Visitor Course accredited training to overcome some of the problems port access arising from ISPS so that ship visiting can be maintained and extended.  Target 50 to 60 instructors and 6000 welfare workers over 4 years.

ii.         Provide support direct to seafarers:

  • Seafarers’ Health Information Programme – seafarer specific information campaign on 7 lifestyle related health topics as defined by extensive project development study
  • Sport – on the basis that a fit seafarer = a safer seafarer, in 2006 797 matches were registered from 24 centres.

c.         Seminars - taking place every 18 months to two years these events are designed to raise awareness of seafarers’ welfare issues in a particular maritime region or sub-region.  Seminars are requirement driven, with target regions and issues being proposed by ICSW members and welfare personnel working in a region.  Seminars are tailored to result in agreement to undertake a Regional Seafarers’ Welfare Development Programme designed specifically to address and resolve issues raised during the seminar. 

d.         Regional Seafarers’ Welfare Development Programmes

i.          Commonwealth of Independent States & Baltic States - completed December 2005 with 12 new and seven refurbished centres, 22 ports receiving transport facilities, 19 centres receiving IT equipment, 30 individuals receiving language training, 40 receiving IT training and 15 centre directors receiving management training.  Georgia and Russia ratified ILO Convention 163, with the convention being promoted throughout the region.  National Seafarers’ Welfare Boards have been established in Georgia, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine. Three countries joined the ICSW as a result of the programme.  The regional structure has been maintained beyond the programme (at local expense) to oversee completion of existing projects and guide future development. 

ii.         Indian Ocean & South East Africa – terminated at the end of December 2004 with new centre in Mauritius and various training courses

iii.         West Africa – ended May 2007 with new centres opened in San Pedro (Ivory Coast) and Pointe Noire (Congo); centre construction in Tema and Cotonou is nearing completion, with new centres planned for Guinea Bissau and Liberia.  National Seafarers’ Welfare Boards are operating in Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria and Congo, with Senegal in the process of setting up this important structure.  Two countries have joined the ICSW (Ivory Coast and Ghana), with Ivory Coast also having ratified ILO Convention 163 and set up a port levy system to fund seafarers’ welfare facilities and services.  New vehicles have been provided to Senegal, Ivory Coast (two), Ghana and Nigeria.  Internet facilities for seafarers are now available in Sierra Leone and Ghana.  English language, ship visitor, centre management and computer training has been provided to welfare workers throughout the region.  The Regional Welfare Committee is initiating procedures to ensure continuation of the programme beyond 2007 using regional resources.

iv.        North & Central Latin America (NCLA) - Up to December 2006 the work programme had established nine National Seafarers’ Welfare Boards (six legally recognised) and 11 Port Welfare Committees (nine legally recognised).  Throughout the region 10 Seafarers’ Centres are working with an additional one to be re-opened.  Seven vehicles have been provided to seafarers’ welfare centres. One country has ratified ILO Convention-163 and joined the ICSW. 

v.         South Asia - Despite the relative youth of this programme National Seafarers’ Welfare Boards have been established in India and Sri Lanka, with India joining the ICSW in February 2007. Port Welfare Committees are operating in the 12 major ports in India, together with Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Chittagong (Bangladesh). Ship visitor training was conducted in Mumbai at the end of 2006. 

3.         The future 

a.         Membership support – corporate associate membership, re-structure following Strategic Review to increase membership 

b.         Projects

i.          SHIP – phase 2

ii.         Sport – consolidate current position, attract funding, diversify to meet seafarers’ needs.

iii.         Twinning – 3 pairs per year to 2008 or until funds run out, with possibility of phase 3 (targeted regions), twinning of national welfare boards

iv.        Training – international rollout of SWVC, addition of distance learning module, course on seafarers’ welfare provisions of Maritime Labour Convention 2006 

c.         Seminars – Singapore (Sept 2007), Far East of Eastern Mediterranean/Middle East in 2009. 

d.         Regional Seafarers’ Welfare Development Programmes – completion of NCLA and South Asia, initiation of South East Asia and programme arising from seminar 2009.