New collaborative project with the UK Department of Transport announced

July 14, 2020

We are delighted to announce that Seafarers UK is working on a collaborative project with the UK Department of Transport and the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) to provide free internet access on board ships visiting UK ports where hundreds of seafarers are still waiting to return home. Working with Port Chaplains and trained ship visitors from welfare organisations such as, Mission to Seafarers, Stella Maris and Sailors’ Society, the project will use Mi-Fi technology (wireless routers that act as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot) to provide seafarers with a strong and secure internet connection to connect seafarers with their families and friends.

The MiFi project’s pilot year was funded by the ITF Seafarers Trust, and this new partnership project led and managed by the MNWB will provide seafarers with free internet access for one year. Communications and access to good quality Internet has always been seafarers’ number one welfare request when onboard and in port as demonstrated by a variety of surveys of seafarers’ needs in recent years.

MNWB Deputy Chief Executive Sharon Coveney explains: ‘Due to the pandemic, most of the centres that provide free internet have had to close and many seafarers remain unable to leave their vessels. Some, but not all, vessels provide their crew members with access to good quality internet and our project will ensure that as many as possible have the opportunity to keep in contact with their loved ones during these difficult times.’

Seafarers UK Grants Director Deborah Layde says: ‘Our joint funding support with the Department for Transport and MNWB ensures that not only will a successful pilot evolve but it also demonstrates proactive and collaborative working between Government and Voluntary Organisations. Ultimately seafarers’ wellbeing and connectedness will be enhanced around the UK.’

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