International seafarer welfare charity The Mission to Seafarers has announced the launch of its new WeCare Social Communications and Financial Literacy training programme.
Supported by the UK P&I Club, the global training initiative aims to address rising levels of stress among seafarers brought on by financial pressures and the misuse of social networking platforms.
The WeCare Finance Literacy programme will provide informative money management guidance to help seafarers and their families have better control over their spending. As part of the training initiative, participants will be taught simple saving and budgeting techniques, such as how to allocate a set amount of money on a monthly basis to extended family – a challenge that is particularly relevant to seafarers from the Philippines.
The programme has initially been developed for Filipino, Indian and Ukrainian seafarer families, with further options being explored for the future.
At the same time, the WeCare Social Communications programme aims to educate seafarers and their families about the best use of social media as a tool for communication. Reports from the Mission’s port chaplains and welfare teams and comments from within the maritime industry have revealed increasing levels of stress among seafarers around social media. WiFi is now increasingly available not just in port but also at sea. If used inappropriately by families communicating with crew members, or indeed vice-versa, this can create unnecessary anxiety, especially when news from home is combined with feelings of powerlessness to respond. This can have a significant impact on well-being, which, in turn, can have a knock-on impact on quality of work, and potentially on safety.
The training programme will provide an understanding of how to communicate online in a way that is safe, beneficial and meaningful, helping seafarers to avoid breakdowns in communication that may be caused by misinterpretations of emotion or tone.
Both training courses can be delivered directly to seafarers or to their families, including through the Mission’s Family Support Networks. For shipping companies looking to develop capacity in-house, the Mission also offers a ‘train the trainer’ option.
In addition, the Mission will run roadshows in locations around the Philippines where there is a large number of seafarers and their families. These courses will be delivered in a mixture of English and Tagalog.
The Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General, The Mission to Seafarers, said:
“I am delighted to announce the launch of The Mission to Seafarers’ new WeCare Programme. This exciting new initiative tackles two of the issues which we hear about time and time again here at the Mission during our routine ship visits and through our conversations with seafarers and their families.
“Social media is a significant and growing factor in all of our lives. It can be a fantastic opportunity, promoting enhanced contact with family and friends. However, it can also produce difficulties, can be misused, and can do harm. Learning to use it wisely is very important – particularly for those separated by long distances for extended periods of time.
“Similarly, many seafarers have spoken to our team about the challenges they face in managing their money. This can be a considerable source of anxiety both for those onboard and for families back at home.
“The WeCare project has the capacity to address these issues on a global scale. I hope this initiative will grow to become a major worldwide project – and one which learns and adapts at every step of the way. I am deeply grateful for the financial support from the UK P&I Club in its 150th anniversary year which has made this project possible. My thanks also to our teams on the ground who are developing and delivering it. I look forward to seeing the results of the programme.”
Hugo Wynn-Williams, Chairman, Thomas Miller, added: “The UK Club and The Mission to Seafarers have a long relationship of working together. We are fully supportive of the launch of its new WeCare programme, which will be instrumental in helping seafarers cope with issues arising from the advent of social media as well as any financial woes they may face.
“By supporting this excellent initiative, we hope to make the WeCare programme freely available to all UK P&I Club members. As part of the 150th anniversary of the UK Club, it gives us great pleasure to donate to this vital training initiative.”