UKSA to bolster student wellbeing support thanks to The Seafarers’ Charity

Published 21/12/2021

UKSA is recruiting for an additional welfare officer to support its students’ wellbeing, thanks to a generous donation from The Seafarers’ Charity which will also fund the charity’s existing safeguarding and welfare manager.

As a provider of life-enhancing water-based adventures, education and providing world-leading maritime training, which has been providing training for careers at sea for over 30 years, UKSA has a large focus on seeking to improve the mental health of young people. It has further cemented its commitment to the cause with an approach which positions its students’ wellbeing on a par with achieving their qualifications.

Ben Willows, CEO of UKSA, said:

“Our unique approach means that we don’t just focus on the hard skills needed to pass qualifications, but support our beneficiaries to develop the life skills needed to excel. Part of this ethos is ensuring all our MCA and career students are mentored throughout their training by an experienced instructor, as well as having dedicated sessions in their timetables to prepare them for employment in the industry and keeping a strong focus on student welfare.”

The two positions of safeguarding and welfare manager and welfare officer, were made possible by the support of The Seafarers’ Charity.

Catherine Spencer, CEO of The Seafarers’ Charity said:

“We have a long and successful partnership with UKSA.  Our focus as a grant funder is to tackle the disadvantages of a seafaring life – primarily through funding to alleviate or prevent welfare needs.  The role of the welfare officer at UKSA absolutely fits our criteria and we are proud to support given the already proven impact of the role and the likely increased impact by funding further support for students and UKSA alumni.” 

The appointments follow the charity’s recruitment of Kim Fry as its first welfare officer in 2018 which followed an increased demand for more pastoral support. From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, the welfare officer has met with 286 people, 35 UKSA employees and 251 non-employees.

Kim Fry, UKSA’s safeguarding and welfare manager said:

“Since the pandemic started, we had to respond differently to maintain the wellbeing of both students and staff. We were fortunate that technology has allowed for continued connection if face to face meetings weren’t possible and providing support via alternative methods such as texts, emails and phone calls has proven effective, particularly when matching the different needs of individuals.”

During the pandemic Kim used the opportunity to become a Mental Health First Aid England Instructor allowing her to subsequently train other mental health first aiders, which to date, is now 18 members of UKSA staff. Kim has also developed a Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Training for Seafarers course which to date, has been delivered to over 150 students.

Ben continued:

“Even before the pandemic, the demand for support from our existing welfare officer was rapidly increasing. This resulted in us developing a more formal Mental Health and Wellbeing framework within our training to make it a core element of our culture and this is now being delivered by Kim.”

For more information on UKSA and its maritime training for a career at sea, please visit