Navigating Change – A Review of the UK Maritime Welfare Charity Sector – Summary Report


This report summarises the key findings of a major new research project reviewing the needs and demographics of UK maritime beneficiaries and the support offered by the UK maritime welfare charity sector. The report covers the ups and downs of the last tumultuous decade (2005-2015) and looks to future challenges over the next thirty-five years to 2050. The full report providing the detailed analysis and commentary is also available.



This report aims to understand the maritime welfare charities which support maritime beneficiaries – and how well they meet the demand, specifically whether the UK Maritime Welfare Charity sector is: a. Currently fit for purpose (i.e. answering the needs of its beneficiary population today); b. Flexible and adaptive to the changing needs of its beneficiary population (i.e. has it adapted to changing needs over the last ten years, and is it capable of adapting to changes in needs over the next twenty years); c. Operating at the forefront of innovation and good practice, in particular with regard to the delivery of benevolence and housing, and in measuring impact (in comparison to the rest of the third sector and particularly with reference to other occupational sub-sectors). This programme involved: • 30 in-depth telephone interviews with a quota sample of maritime welfare charities, selected to ensure broad representation by workforce (Naval Service / Merchant Navy / Fishing Fleet), organisation size and geographical location, and organisation focus: beneficiaries / services; • 7 face-to-face interviews with representatives of charities which are currently members of the Maritime Charities Group (MCG); • An online survey of maritime welfare charities and tri-Service (Armed Forces) charities which achieved responses from 46 maritime welfare charities and 20 tri-Service (Armed Forces) charities; • Identification of the Maritime Welfare Charity (MWC) sector, whose primary focus is on providing welfare support to maritime beneficiaries (N=81); analysis of maritime welfare charity accounts over ten years (2005-2015, where available); in-depth quantitative analysis of the finances of the largest maritime welfare charities (with an income of over £500,000); comparison with both the wider third sector and other occupational benevolent sectors sharing similar characteristics. While many maritime welfare charities are anticipating an increase in demand over the next 5 years, only a quarter believe that the sector is in ‘a good position’ to respond. Maritime charities are not alone in this, with almost one fifth of third sector charity chief executives claiming that their organisations are struggling to survive. Now the MWC sector needs to overcome a number of challenges to put itself in a better position going forward. In coming to grips with possible solutions, it is important to understand that the challenges faced will be different for different maritime welfare charities depending on their size, the workforce they serve and the support they offer, and therefore solutions will also not be ‘one size fits all’.

Full Reference

Walker, C., Fairclough, D. (2017). Navigating Change - A Review of the UK Maritime Welfare Charity Sector - Summary Report