Boaters’ issues revealed
PHYSICAL DISABILITIES, FINANCIAL difficulties and mental health problems are among the challenges facing liveaboard boaters that national Welfare Officer Sean Williams has dealt with in the 18 months since he was appointed by the Canal & River Trust.
Following the recent boater survey showing increasing numbers of people whose boat is their home, Mr Williams has now published a sample of case studies from the 189 he has dealt with, in the hope of showing what his team can do, and helping others who are either struggling or know somebody who is. A boater with no income, who had been relying on handouts and friends, couldn’t afford to re-licence the boat and was scared of losing it. CRT’s local teams couldn’t get a response, but a friend of the boater contacted Mr Williams’ team. He met the boater, talked through how to apply for the benefits available, and organisations that could help. Enforcement action was halted, benefits enabled the boater to re-license the craft, and the boater is now cruising and no longer living off friends’ support. A boat was showing up as unlicensed because the boater (claiming housing benefit) was sending an incomplete application form to the local authority. Mr Williams met the boater who had depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and found talking about the licence situation hard. CRT action was put on hold while the boater was given support from a GP and support groups, put in a claim for benefits, and set up a plan to clear debts. Mr William’s team was contacted by a marina as a registered disabled boater was suffering deteriorating health, becoming unable to manage the boat, struggling to cope and needed specialist care. Following discussions and with support from a local chaplain, the boater decided to move to more suitable accommodation, and Mr Williams kept in touch to make sure support work was co-ordinated while the boater was re-housed.
Anyone wanting to get in touch can find details on canalrivertrust.org.uk or call the general enquiries number 0303 040 4040.