Boaters’ is­sues re­vealed

Canal Boat - - News -

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.

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