Maritime charities join forces to promote diversity in new workshops

Maritime welfare charities have joined forces to deliver a number of workshops throughout the UK that aim to tackle prejudices and unconscious biases across the charity sector.

Fishermen’s Mission, Maritime Charities Group, Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB), The Seafarers’ Charity, Seafarers Hospital Society and Trinity House are striving to create an inclusive work environment and a culture where everyone regardless of race, age, class and creed are treated fairly.

This will be done by a panel of senior staff from the respective organisations delivering presentations and activities to promote Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in each workshop.

The newly-launched workshops will take place during MNWB’s upcoming Port Welfare Committees (PWCs) in Southampton, Bristol, Humber, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London. The Board has 15 PWCs in the UK, and a National Seafarers’ Welfare Board in Gibraltar, which each meet three times a year and comprise representatives from government agencies, maritime charities, trade unions, port authorities and ship owners, all of whom are concerned with the welfare of seafarers.

Calls for change in the sector come following a recent Charity Commission’s report[1] that revealed that amongst all the UK’s national charities boards, 92% of the trustees were white, two thirds were male, and the average age was between 55-64. Diversity amongst the maritime welfare charities, similarly, shows little evidence of progress.

Overall, charity boards, senior leadership, middle management teams and general staff of most maritime welfare charities are not diverse.

Project manager Sharon Coveney, who is Deputy CEO of the umbrella charity for the UK Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets MNWB, said:

“We are delighted to be delivering these workshops as EDI focuses on people and should ideally be a foundational pillar to every organisation achieving its vision and mission.

“By hosting these sessions, we hope to gain commitment to EDI within the maritime welfare charities’ sector.”

The first workshop launches on Thursday (May 16) at DP World, Southampton from 11am.

Confirmed dates:

Southern PWC – Thursday 16 May 2024

Bristol PWC – Tuesday 18 June 2024

Humber PWC – Thursday 27 June 2024

North & East Scotland PWC – Tuesday 24 September 2024

Northern Ireland PWC – Tuesday 8 October 2024

London & South East PWC – Thursday 10 October 2024

***Quotes from supporting organisations***

Director of Business Development at Fishermen’s Mission Ali Godfrey said:

“Our commitment to our values is unwavering. Diverse and inclusive teams help us to serve our communities better.  We want to grow a team that includes people with a variety of backgrounds, skills and views. Whatever makes you unique is welcome. We are on a journey and we would like you to join us.”

Chief Executive of The Seafarers’ Charity Deborah Layde said:

“In 2019, our analysis of maritime welfare charity boards’ gender, age and time served revealed lack of visible and invisible diversity.  We then offered £5k governance grants to enable independent and external EDI insight.  One CEO commented ‘the questions on EDI as part of the grant application process, and the EDI funding, encouraged impetus and buy-in from our board’.

“EDI work with PWCs is incredibly important if we wish to continue to provide the very best for our UK and international seafarers.”

Trinity House’s Head of Charitable Giving Vikki Muir said:

“Increased diversity of thought and background will become increasingly crucial qualities in the maritime welfare sector, as we adapt and innovate to meet evolving needs from mariners and their dependants. We are committed to working at the forefront of this important initiative, and we will ensure that our funding and participation helps.”

Dr Tim Slingsby Director of Education & Skills, Lloyd’s Register Foundation and MCG Chair, said:

”Since its inception at the MCG conference in 2022, we’ve continued to support this important initiative. The sector has some way to go on EDI, so we’re delighted to see the roll out of these workshops throughout the UK in the coming months.”

Sandra Welch, CEO of Seafarers Hospital Society, commented:

“The Seafarers Hospital Society is dedicated to meeting the health, welfare and advice needs of seafarers of any nationality based in the United Kingdom, and being a force for positive change within the merchant and fishing fleets by addressing disparities and inequalities. Actively participating in EDI discussions keeps us informed and enables us to remain true to our mission, ensuring that our core values stay relevant to seafarers and those who depend upon them.”

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