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The charity making life better by water

Vulnerable boaters

Boating can be a great lifestyle, but it can get tough at times. Here’s how we’re putting boaters in touch with the people who can help.

Who to contact if you're worried

If you're a boater in need of help, or you're concerned about a boater who you think might be vulnerable and in need of help, please contact your local licence support officer directly or call 0303 040 4040.

Are you struggling to pay your boat licence or mooring fees?

If you are in financial difficulty or need advice on how you might pay a debt, contact a debt advisor. The following organisations offer free, impartial and non-judgemental advice:

Worried about heating costs over winter?

The cost of heating fuels is a real concern at the moment and we understand that some boaters are worried. This article has some heating tips and safety related guidance, as well as some information on government support that may be available to boaters. As always, if you're concerned, please contact your Licence Support Officer

Are you struggling in other ways?

The Trust works with support partners such as local health services, council departments or specialist charities, to point boaters to the help and advice available to them if they are identified as having a vulnerability such a suffering from poor mental health.

Our boat licence customer support team (BLCS) can work with you to help you find and get the support available from local authorities, who have a duty of care to provide adequate services (housing, social services, benefit advice etc), and/or other support agencies.

Colleagues spot where customers, and in particular boaters, may be vulnerable. Support is available to help stop boaters going through enforcement action purely because of vulnerability. Ultimately, we want all our customers to stay safe and enjoy our waterways so if you are struggling or know a boater who is struggling, please do get in touch with our team. You can also download our seeking advice factsheet.

Seek help from the right organisation

To check if you can claim benefits go to or

If you are homeless or facing homelessness contact your local authority – use this checker to find your local authority. You can also call a local directory enquiry service to find your local authority.

Other free help or advice:

Our welfare guidance

Download a PDF copy of our Welfare Guidance (Please note: this guidance is for our colleagues who may come into contact with vulnerable boaters).

Are you a disabled boater?

We want everyone to benefit from improved health, wellbeing and happiness that comes from being by the water and boating. Our equality policy sets out our commitment to promote equality for people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 and our approach to making sure everyone can access and use our waterways.

If you're a boater with a disability that makes it difficult to move your boat in line with our boat licence terms and conditions please contact your local licence support officer directly or call 0303 040 4040.

We have a specific process for making reasonable adjustments to our normal cruising regulations for disabled boaters. Please read our disabled boaters' information before downloading our equality questionnaire.

Any boater who has had reasonable adjustments approved, such as an extension on how often they have to move their boat, is given a 'Trust aware' badge to display in their window, if they wish to do so. This means our team and other boaters can see that a boat owner has been in contact with us and they they need some flexibility in how they use our waterways.

Last Edited: 01 November 2023

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