ISWAN receives new funding for research on social interaction among crew

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The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) has received new funding to further the work of its Social Interaction Matters (SIM) Project.

ISWAN’s SIM Project is a long-term initiative working to improve the health and wellbeing of seafarers and their families worldwide through the promotion of increased, quality social interaction and rest time for seafarers.

In the first three phases of the project, which began in 2019, ISWAN conducted innovative research to identify the key influencers which affect seafarers’ ability to enjoy quality social interaction on board. Leadership culture, fatigue, a diverse and inclusive environment, and the COVID-19 pandemic were found to be key influencers amongst others.

Using these research findings, ISWAN developed a set of actionable guidance and recommendations for shipping and ship management companies. These allow seafarers and other maritime stakeholders to improve and increase opportunities, and facilitate the right environments, for crew to socially interact.

The recommendations included: the appointment of a voluntary Social Ambassador on board every vessel; active and visible company-level and leadership approval for social interaction; free and good quality Wi-Fi; appropriate recreation facilities which consider crew preferences; and further research into the effects of fatigue and tiredness and their impact on seafarer mental health.

The SIM Project has now been awarded new funding by the Trinity House Maritime Charity Department for Transport (DfT) Fund for new research to evaluate the effectiveness of the project’s guidance and recommendations, and to develop these to become more inclusive of seafarers in the cruise ship and superyacht industries.

The findings will be used to update and broaden the scope of the project’s guidance and recommendations and to develop them as an influential, dynamic, and collaborative long-term educational resource and practical health and wellbeing tool for the sector.

Trinity House’s Deputy Master Rear Admiral Iain Lower said: “We are delighted that we could support this maritime welfare research project. This funding will help an already successful – and much needed – project to broaden its reach even further and to improve the health and wellbeing of more seafarers and their families worldwide.”

SIM Project Lead Dr. Kate Pike said: “The SIM Project development will use reliable and industry-recognised data collection technologies to produce a range of health and wellbeing statistics. These will identify where welfare provision is needed most and how social interaction can assist in supporting better health and safety outcomes for all seafarers.”

ISWAN’s Projects and Relationships Manager Georgia Allen said: “The response to ISWAN’s SIM Project research has been overwhelmingly positive from stakeholders and seafarers alike, likely because we are promoting an incredibly important but under-valued area of seafarer welfare. Phase two of the project returned such diverse and interesting data from the 21 partnering vessels, which warranted further exploration. This led to the decision to continue developing the SIM Project as a long-term ISWAN initiative to improve the health and wellbeing of seafarers worldwide.

“We are excited to launch this new research and are grateful to the Trinity House Maritime Charity DfT Fund and project sponsor Seaspan Corporation for making it possible.”

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