BLOG: Life in the fast lane

‘The sense of community within each committee is what makes the PWC members special’ – Port Welfare Committee Manager (PWC) Susan Atkinson reflects on her first year with MNWB.

My first year has absolutely flown by.

In my previous role as a PA to the Senior Leadership Team for Counter Terrorism Policing I was office based, with the occasional escape for offsite meetings or training. I also only planned and booked travel for other people and attended meetings solely to take the minutes. The PWC Manager role has been a huge change for me, with lots of travelling, and meeting many people (approximately 100 at each round of meetings) and taking an active part in meetings on behalf of the MNWB.

I am fortunate that the role started at a time when in-person meetings had resumed, rather than being remote. I have seen how valuable face-to-face meetings are, as not only do they enable active discussion during the meeting, but the networking opportunity after can be invaluable. I often hear ‘I’ll catch up with you after the meeting about…’ or ‘I’ve been wanting/needing to talk to you about…’.

I very quickly learned the importance of having the right people attend meetings and have made a great effort in seeking representatives from companies and organisations located within the PWC region port area. This included, but has not been limited to, engaging with port authorities, local authorities, shipping agencies, Border Force and the police, to name a few.  This ensures that organisations and companies involved with seafarers’ welfare, either living in the UK or visiting our ports, are brought together through their regional PWC.

I have observed in this past year the positive connections that develop between members. These relationships help facilitate and support change for the welfare of seafarers. For example, port authorities ensure Ship Welfare Visitors (SWV) can access the port for in-person visits to seafarers, SWV are informed of seafarers that require medical support, both SWV and other port users have the benefit of knowing who each other are and can call on the appropriate person to assist with problems they encounter.

Not only have I been busy with my PWC meetings, I also attended the QVSR launch of its new centres at Trinity House in July 2022 and was fortunate to attend the MCG conference in September. I represented MNWB on the Advisory Board for Safer Waves project into sexual offences at sea and most recently at the MCA/DfT/MCG Workshop on Suicide and Seafarers. I have also attended my first APPMG at the Houses of Parliament as well as been given a tour of THV Galatea and Trinity House operation centre in Harwich, the Tall Ship Glenlee and most recently a tour of Peterhead Fish Market.

Although I have only met members of my committees on a few occasions, they have been so welcoming that they feel like old friends – and this sense of community within each committee is what makes the PWC members special, along with their enthusiasm for supporting seafarers.