UK Merchant Navy veterans are urged to voice their welfare needs in a special survey
The research is part of a wider initiative to find, recognise and support the unsung Merchant Navy heroes of civilian vessels who are now brought under the UK Armed Forces Covenant.
It is being undertaken by the Institute of Public Care (IPC) thanks to a grant for three projects from the Aged Veterans Fund — which has in turn been funded by the proceeds of fines on banks penalised by the UK government for manipulating the inter-bank lending rate.
The ‘Our Forgotten War Heroes’ survey will form the first step in a three-pronged project to identify and provide dedicated accommodation at the Nautilus Welfare Fund’s Mariners’ Park estate, and to better enable its case worker service to find and assist MN veterans.
Researchers are particularly keen to hear from MN veterans born before 1950, but would also be interested in hearing from younger members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), or the fishing fleet. The survey, which is confidential, asks questions about health and social care needs, and is open until 31 August. If you are a veteran yourself and would like to take part in the survey you can access it here.
Nautilus welfare services manager Mick Howarth said: ‘This sort of research into the needs of Merchant Navy veterans has never been done before, because until recently their efforts in conflict have not been well recognised in the wider community. We expect their needs may well be similar, to those of retired shore-based civilians, but there may also be some differences and that is what the survey is hoping to find out.’
Seafarers UK Director General Commodore Barry Bryant added: ‘After several years of lobbying for proper recognition for Merchant Navy veterans, Seafarers UK was pleased when the Veterans’ Minister agreed they should be brought under the terms of the Armed Forces Covenant.
‘However, there is little point in recognition without action, and we are now delighted that we have been given the resources to research and support this community of unsung and forgotten heroes.’
Seafarers UK helped fund the newly-opened Centenary Wing at the Mariners’ Park Estate, and is also the lead bidder on the Aged Veterans Fund grant for the three components of the project — which totals just over £900,000. This will go towards the immediate research to better understand the size, location and welfare needs of MN veterans, as well as the dedicated provision for four new homes for MN veterans within the planned further building work at the Mariners’ Park Estate. It will also enable the current three part-time Nautilus welfare caseworkers — and a planned fourth addition — to become full-time for a three-year period.