Talking about ‘new normal’

August 6, 2020

There is a deal of talk of a ‘new normal’, but from the MCG’s position it would seem that if we have arrived there it is a very transitory state with many issues still developing and changing. However, one ‘old normal’ MCG initiative has reached fruition with the publication of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Training Standard produced by MCG in partnership with the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB).

The Standard sets out simply and clearly what a good mental health and wellbeing awareness training course for seafarers should cover and is aimed at training providers, commissioners and potential participants alike. It was written by experts from the maritime and education sectors with considerable input from other key stakeholders including the MCA, UK Chamber of Shipping and the industry in general, as well as maritime charities, in particular the Seafarers Hospital Society.

It is splendid to see how well the Standard has been received and the many conversations it has generated as to how this vital issue may be taken forward. To order a copy of the Standard go to https://www.witherbyseamanship.com/a-standard-for-seafarers-mental-health-and-wellbeing-training-ebook.html

More generally the MCG is ameliorating the ‘new normal’ for seafarers and their dependants wherever it can. The Group’s charities and those it supports have committed over £6 million in grants to counter the effects of COVID-19.  This includes support from Seafarers UK and the Fishmongers’ Company Charity working with the Fishermen’s Mission to help fishers find new markets for their fish, following the markets’ collapse in Spain, Italy and China.

Other grants from the TK Foundation and the ITF Seafarers’ Trust have helped port missions stay open around the world bringing help and a friendly presence to the seafarers themselves.  Our members’ agility and ability to work at the local, national and international level has enabled them to provide aid and support to a wide range of organisations and individual seafarers and their families.

As I mentioned in the last blog we are only at the beginning of the upheaval expected to be caused by the virus and redundancies amongst seafarers are now becoming quantifiable.  In this respect we have been approached by the RMT to see if we could help with the retraining of those made redundant from the ferry services who want to stay in the maritime industries.  The MCG has been able to convene a number of charities and other organisations that may be able to help with this ongoing issue. Watch this space for feedback on the progress of our discussions.

We’re not the only ones looking ahead. Parliament is turning its attention to the future for charities in times of COVID-19, with a review by Danny Kruger MP on the role of civil society in the recovery from COVID-19 and an inquiry into life beyond COVID-19 by the new House of Lords COVID-19 committee. https://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/2020/07/16/the-inside-track-july-2020/

We have already responded to the Kruger review setting out examples of best practice from amongst MCG members (see our response here https://www.seafarers.uk/publications/maritime-charities-group-submission-to-the-review-of-the-role-of-civil-society/) and will be looking at how best to input to the House of Lords inquiry over the coming weeks.

In short, if this was a forecast the outlook would be variable, locally good rising.

Keep safe. And don’t forget, the maritime charities are here to help. Go to seafarersupport.org to find out more.

Tell your crew, tell your colleagues, tell your mates.

Commander Graham Hockley LVO RN