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Nautilus caseworkers have continued to ensure mariners are getting the benefits and grants they are entitled to – helping generate nearly £1m for 563 mariners in the first three quarters of 2022 alone and helping support five percent more beneficiaries than in 2021.
At the time that was also a 32% increase in benefit clawbacks on 2020 when the free and confidential caseworker service helped secure a then record of over £1m and assisted 400 retired seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2022, the six caseworkers – who are based in port areas of the UK – supported 563 clients, with 326 visits. In the process they helped to secure successful grant applications worth £997,591. The biggest increase was in the second quarter of the year, when the number of successful grants peaked at £398,564 for 202 seafaring beneficiaries.
In 2022 the caseworker service enabled retired and needy mariners and their dependants to claim welfare benefits they were entitled to including attendance allowance, pension credit, carers allowance, council tax rebates, personal independence payments and universal credit. The service also helped them to access services such as rehousing, home adaptations, and health and social care provision.
Nautilus Welfare Fund director of welfare and care Andrew Jones said: 'Caseworkers continue to make a huge difference to the numbers of mariners that we that we can now support as part of the charity's services, and in support of the Union's strategic plan. The 2022 figures reflect a significant increase on the numbers assisted and continue the good record of funding secured.'
Celebration of the Sea extends caseworker reach
A new community activity at Nautilus Mariners' Park, Celebration of the Sea — which aims to foster morale-boosting friendships among former seafarers – is extending its reach.
Nautilus Merseyside caseworker Ruth O'Brien, who was involved with casework for seafarers in Liverpool during Covid-19, realised that there was a need for an initiative after the restrictions were lifted to get seafarers in the community together, as many were lonely and missed the company of other seafarers.
Together with Age UK Wirral activities co-ordinator Roger Cliffe-Thompson she organised some initial meetings at Mariners' Park specifically for retired seafarers based on Merseyside.
At a first post-pandemic meeting of the Liverpool branch of the Merchant Navy Association (MNA), an invitation was extended to them to visit the Maritime Museum in Liverpool which has now resulted in two visits.
In the first visit, a guided tour of the new gallery 'Life on Board' at the museum attracted 15 seafarers, which gave those who met up the first time at Mariners' Park, both residents and those living locally in Merseyside, a chance to reconnect.
A firm favourite among the seafarers was of a display of discharge books. The trip also generated much discussion about the fate of the bulk carrier Liverpool Bridge, which became the ill-fated Derbyshire.
All the seafarers seemed glad of the chance talk about their serving seafaring days during the outing.
Ms O'Brien said that casework visits had established that some female residents were grieving the loss of partners or coping with loss of sight at home alone, and some had not been on outings or socialised in four years. So, in a second trip in December, more women residents were encouraged to take part. Meeting other female residents in similar circumstances as a result of the trip has resulted in plans for aa new initiative for female residents tentatively named 'Married to the Sea'.
The Guild of Benevolence and IMarEST provided much appreciated costs towards museum trip transport and refreshments.
In the run up to Christmas the Celebration of the Sea project also had another well-received a festive meetup which included a free raffle, maritime history presentation and a quiz.