UPDATE: The coronavirus and the MVS



Much has happened since Sunday when I announced that MVS activities would cease until further notice due to COVID-19.

Several members expressed concern that we were withdrawing from any Resilience role during this crisis.
I explained that the nature of this emergency and the vulnerability of many of our members gave us no choice.
The PM’s announcements on Monday and subsequently have made clear the gravity of the situation we face.
Sadly, but predictably, the severity of this crisis is now being underlined by increasing numbers of deaths.
The MVS’s duty of care is to protect its members.

While we may not be taking part in activities, that does not mean we should be ‘inactive’.
At a Unit level HoU’s will be if anything busier than usual, on their phones and computers.
It is vital that we keep in regular communication with all our members.

Most importantly this is to make sure they are alright and to see if they need any assistance or just want to talk.
This does not necessarily mean us physically assisting, for instance by doing their shopping for them.
It could be a case of helping arranging online shopping or putting them in touch with specific resources.

All members should bear in mind when looking to help others that official guidance to keep social interaction to minimum applies to us all.
Moreover, restrictions on unnecessary movement are only likely to increase significantly as we go forward.
This is going to be a long haul and the phone and the keyboard are the key tools for us during this emergency.

We can and should go further, though, in using the phone and Internet to keep the MVS going as a lively and dynamic organisation.
At least one Unit is using its weekly newsletter to distribute information of interest to members and to run a quiz.
It is also running a ‘virtual Unit night’ and organising distance learning for members who wish to take part.

This could also be a good time for Units to update their Safety Management Systems, for example.
This terrible period will eventually come to an end and we must be properly prepared to hit the ground running when it does.

Arrangements need to be put in place to check the condition of Unit craft and possibly carrying out maintenance work, tasking just one person at a time.
These should be risk assessed and cleared by the RVO.
But even this checking of craft might not always be necessary if, as has been offered in one port already, the port authority staff are prepared to monitor the condition of craft.

MVS management is also far from ‘inactive’.
The RVOs and the CVO are working hard to keep communications going, support HoUs and to address issues as they arise.
The management structure is in place and should be used.
Meanwhile Council is carrying on with its work with an extended ’email meeting’.

I am aware of the frustration of many of you that we are in the midst of the worst national emergency since the War and the MVS is unable to play a role.
All I can say is that this is the current reality and we have no choice but to accept it.
The best contribution we can make is to ensure that our 400 members, many of whom are within the vulnerable group, stay safe and do not add to the strain on the NHS.

Take care of yourselves

The MVS will also not be participating in any external events
Many partners have cancelled events at which we were due to take part.
The MVS was due to participate at the 2020 Seawork Exhibition at the Southampton Mayflower Park in June.
This event is now cancelled.