Building positive relationships with others is important for our wellbeing. For seafarers working away from home for long periods, it can be difficult to remain in close contact with family and friends, so the opportunity to connect with other seafarers can be a major benefit. However, long working hours, smaller crews, and cultural differences mean there can be barriers to socialising with shipmates.
Aims and objectives
Our Social Interaction Matters (SIM) project aims to help shipping and ship management companies improve seafarers’ social interaction on board, and to positively impact the wellbeing of their seafarers through using programmes with proven success. The project will:
Benefits to shipping and ship management companies
Shipping and ship management companies can make a big difference to the happiness of their seafarers with some relatively straightforward changes. In most cases, this is also likely to contribute to a seafarer’s job satisfaction, motivation and productivity.
Along with the moral motivations for providing opportunities for social activities on board, there are likely to be a number of business benefits:
The first phase of the SIM Project began in April and May 2020 with a large survey of seafarers and other maritime stakeholders as well as 10 in-depth telephone interviews. These examined the relevant drivers and barriers to the promotion of social interaction and specific activities which seafarers around the world identified as helping to engage people.
From 29 June to 10 July 2020, we held a two-week digital campaign called 'Connecting Crew' to highlight the importance of connecting with others for crew wellbeing:
On 5 January 2021, we published a report for Phase One of the SIM Project:
In November 2020, Phase Two ‘The SIM Trials’ began. We partnered with a number of shipping companies to investigate the impact (or lack thereof) of social engagement initiatives on crew living and working on board their vessels.
A total of 21 vessels from 10 different companies participated in the trials, which began by selecting a Shipboard and Shoreside Ambassador to represent each vessel. The Shipboard Ambassadors each completed daily and weekly logs to record the details of life on board, and to describe any social activities that had taken place and the impact of these on overall crew mood. Each crew member was also encouraged to complete a weekly online survey which asked confidential questions about their individual wellbeing and mood.
After the Phase Two trials ended, we conducted exit interviews with each of the SIM Ambassadors, and held an ‘Ambassadors’ Round Table’ so those from different companies could share their insights and experiences from the trials and beyond.
For the SIM Project’s final phase, early next year we will be releasing an industry-targeted report on our findings, as well as implementable guidance and recommendations for facilitating improved social interaction on board based on these findings, along with vessel specifics such as the frequency of port calls, size and type of vessel and voyage patterns. Both publications will be appropriate for both shipping and ship management companies, as well as individuals worldwide, who are invested in working to improve the overall wellbeing and welfare of their crew.
Looking to the future, we plan to explore key themes that have emerged from our research, such as the link between fatigue, safety, social interaction and wellbeing.
A free mobile app for seafarers which can be used offline to access help, information and support around the clock
Providing humanitarian support to seafarers and their families in South and South East Asia and West and Central Africa
Spotting the signs and responding to concerns
A guide for shipping companies and ship operators to develop and implement mental health policies
We launched the results of our survey of superyacht crew in London on 3rd December 2018
Recognising excellence in seafarers’ welfare provision across the shipping industry
Discouraging Indian seafarers from signing up with unregistered crewing agencies
We provide shipping companies and seafarers with information on staying healthy on board
A free training package suitable for both individual viewing by all crew and training sessions onboard and ashore
A project aiming to encourage and support the establishment of welfare boards worldwide
Providing seafarers with the right tools and information to keep hydrated on board
A joint initiative looking at the health of women seafarers and where it can be improved