News article created on 12 November 2014

New welfare officer appointed

We've appointed our first ever welfare officer. The role forms part of our strategy around supporting vulnerable boaters who, due to any number of factors, may be finding it harder to cope with life afloat.

Sean Williams worked in an award-winning housing association in Hertfordshire for five years, most recently in the role of tenancy sustainment officer. His job covered supporting vulnerable tenants and empowering them to maintain their tenancy, welfare reform, estate management and issues around anti-social behavior. In his role he built good relationships with partner agencies.

In his spare time Sean works with his partner on fundraising opportunities for School Club Zambia, which works with children in severe poverty. 

Sean said: “This is a great opportunity to make a real difference, both within the Trust and outside it, to the lives of boaters who may need more support than they’re currently getting from the Trust, local councils, housing associations or welfare charities.  It’s an exciting role and one I’m really looking forward to taking on.”

New perspective

Dean Davies, interim head of customer service at Canal & River Trust, said: “I’m delighted that Sean will be joining us as our first ever welfare officer. For some people living on a boat is a lifestyle choice but for others there may not be any other options.  His experience in working with vulnerable tenants and coordinating relationships with partners sets him in great stead for the post and I think that he will bring a new perspective to the Trust. It’s a big role to take on and I’m sure that Sean’s skills and enthusiasm make him the right person for the job.”

Operating on a confidential basis Sean will help vulnerable boaters find the right solutions for their issues and particular set of circumstances. This will be done in partnership with a network of external organisations whose remits include helping provide welfare assistance to those in society who most need it. 

He will also offer expert advice for staff, volunteers, and stakeholders on matters involving vulnerable boaters, and in particular with enforcement cases where the boat owner is discovered to have welfare needs. The role will also help establish our policies on vulnerable boaters and assist in its compliance with relevant legislation, for example the Equality Act.