Navigating the Digital Waves
The ITF Seafarers’ Trust is getting digital welfare to seafarers: on-board and in ports.
At the ITF Seafarers’ Trust we are looking at how we can best keep seafarers connected. We recognise that connectivity to land-based life is vitally important to the health and happiness of seafarers’ and their families, and we want to support all maritime workers to feel connected.
Chatting with a retired seafarer one might expect to hear wild and romantic yarns, tales of weeks spent berthed in a tropical port, enjoying the local culture, taking time to be in touch with home. Sadly, perhaps, that ship has sailed. We know now that time is port is short and precious, and ensuring that seafarers can still attend also to their personal needs is, for the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, a vital welfare contribution.
The digital revolution is of course marching on apace, and we are seeing many exciting opportunities to redefine digital welfare and connectivity. The ITF Seafarers’ Trust envisage a future where connectivity on board can build new communities and strengthen relations with colleagues, shore-based staff, between ships even. Seafarers need not be cut adrift, they can be connected.
We know that connectivity is not only about an internet connection, this is however a vital first step. We have looked at how to bring high-volume low cost connectivity, through the use of portable WiFi-hotspots which can be used by welfare workers and ITF Inspectors in ports to connect seafarers who are unable to get ashore.
Seafarers naturally want to connect with their families at home, and opportunities doubtless exist to build up-on connections to the wider maritime community. We will explore the role of gamification in supporting those connections, looking at how games can be used to improve the welfare of the seafarer and the acquisition of skills and confidence that will benefit the entire maritime community.
ITFST also develop Apps for seafarers, such as Shore Leave, that can be a vital reference resource for a visiting seafarer arriving in a port for the first time. We are working to utilise the App technology throughout our welfare work, and looking forward to a day when seafarers can access all kinds of services, from mental health triage to financial advice, whether they are in the middle of the Atlantic or back at home.
The ITFST are also piloting projects to provide connectivity in isolated and remote port, ports where there may be no existing welfare facilities for visiting seafarers. We want seafarers, some of whom may have been as sea for weeks or more without reaching land, to feel welcomed in remote ports, and to know that in the ITFST they have an organisation that puts them first.
For more information about any of our digital welfare project contact Trust@Seafarerstrust.org