The Family Support Network (FSN) programme brings together seafaring families from across the globe to share one vision – global community.
First established in 2016 our FSN in the Philippines has seen significant growth and now supports over 4,000 seafarers and their family members across several community ‘chapters’ in the Philippines and India. In both countries, there is demand for FSN services to grow and support more seafaring families living in vulnerable communities at risk of social and economic insecurity. A family support network provides an essential link between seafarer and family members whilst they are apart. This is a link which in serious circumstances can become a lifeline.
The FSN empowers community volunteers to lead and coordinate local activities to strengthen community resilience. These include skills training such as WeCare financial wellbeing, and annual events like Sea Sunday and International Seafarers Day. Community events enable families to meet and share stories and concerns. The Mission to Seafarers team supports families through providing social, economic, and spiritual counselling and referrals.
On countless occasions, the Mission to Seafarers has provided first response support to seafarers in need because of FSN members reaching out. The FSN connection to our global ministry means a family on one side of the globe can reach their seafaring loved one on the other in time times of concern or crisis. This has been the case in countries like the Philippines during natural disasters and global pandemics.
Case study – Philippines
In the Philippines, our Family Support Network is led by our Country Manager, Ms Tolentino. The programme works in partnership with the Independent Church of the Philippines to provide seafarers and their families with a national and regional network of community groups we call ‘chapters’ (see map). There are currently seven confirmed chapters and several pending as more communities seek support and guidance from the network. Becoming a chapter allows communities to access a range of services including but not limited to:
- Free membership welfare services provided by the Mission to Seafarers Filipino Welfare team.
- Seafarer training and mentoring schemes, community activities, and referral services
- 24/7 Welfare support, 1:1 mentoring, family counselling and case management.
- Referral services covering legal, medical, and financial services to support members.
- Annual events including resilience training (i.e financial literacy), celebration events (i.e. Day of the Seafarer), and social gatherings (talks and recreational days).