Our work

Social Interaction Matters (SIM)

ISWAN’s Social Interaction Matters (SIM) Project is a long-term ISWAN 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. The project is funded by the Trinity House Maritime Charity DFT Fund - which includes the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) - and is sponsored by Seaspan Corporation.

News and updates

In August 2023, the SIM Project was awarded new funding by the Trinity House Maritime Charity DFT Fund for new research to evaluate the effectiveness of the project’s phase two guidance and recommendations and to expand 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.

Check back soon for announcements about the SIM Project’s new technology and research partners.

Regular project updates will be posted here, on ISWAN’s social media and in our monthly e-news.

Key findings to date

The SIM Project phase one and two research, driven primarily by qualitative data sources, highlights several key influencers which affect seafarers’ ability to enjoy quality social interaction. These include:

  • Leadership culture
  • Fatigue
  • Work and rest boundaries
  • Available recreation facilities
  • COVID-19 pandemic

Headline findings demonstrate the importance of social interaction for seafarer good mental health, fostering positive on-board relationships, and encouraging a strong safety culture.

Several recommendations for change, targeted towards shipping and ship management companies, have been made. These include:

  • The appointment of a voluntary Social Ambassador on board every vessel
  • Active and visible company-level and leadership approval for social interaction (supported by ongoing training)
  • Free and good quality Wi-Fi
  • Appropriate recreation facilities which consider crew preferences
  • Further research into the effects of fatigue and tiredness and their impact on seafarer mental health

You can read more about these findings and recommendations in the phase two report:

DOWNLOAD: Phase Two Report

Phases One – Three research

The SIM Project was first developed in 2019 to explore an under researched area of seafarer welfare - social interaction.

Phase One, March - August 2020, included a literature review, survey of 911 seafarers and other maritime stakeholders, ten semi-structured in-depth interviews with maritime stakeholders, and an industry focus group. The phase one report was published in January 2021. Read the Phase One report here:

DOWNLOAD: Phase One report

Phase Two, November 2020 - February 2022, involved live trials on board 21 different vessels belonging to ten partner, and two focus groups. The Phase Two report, guidance and recommendations were published in June 2022. Read the Phase Two report and our partner and participant acknowledgements here:

DOWNLOAD: Phase Two Report

Phase Three, March 2022 - November 2022, included data analysis of the research findings, the writing and publication of the final report, and marketing and dissemination of the findings to reach a wide maritime audience.

In November 2022, ISWAN held a seminar titled ‘The importance of social interaction for seafarers’ wellbeing’ on board the ss Rotterdam, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The event invited stakeholders from across the sector to discuss the project’s findings and recommendations, hear from experts about the relationship between social interaction and wellbeing, and participate in a collaborative workshop to brainstorm ways to take the recommendations forward and affect long-term change. You can watch the recording of the seminar here.

WATCH: ISWAN 2022 Seminar


DOWNLOAD: Phase Two Report

DOWNLOAD: Phase Two Report - Executive Summary

DOWNLOAD: Phase Two Report - Guidance and Recommendations

DOWNLOAD: Phase One Report

DOWNLOAD: Phase One - Executive Summary

On 9 July 2020, we held a webinar to present the initial findings from the research:

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:

DOWNLOAD: Connecting Crew campaign resources

Article series focusing on themes emerging from Phase One research:

  1. Social Interaction Matters – Leading by example (February 2021)
  2. Social Interaction Matters – Combatting the impacts of COVID-19 (March 2021)
  3. Social Interaction Matters – What works well on board? (April 2021)
  4. Social Interaction Matters – Dealing with demographics (May 2021)
  5. Social Interaction Matters – Better by design (June 2021)
  6. Social Interaction Matters – Where are we now? (December 2021)

Project resources

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