Youngsters and staff aboard ‘Queen Galadriel’. Pictured right is David Smith, Little Britain Challenge Cup Director.v
A group of disadvantaged young people have just returned from a memorable trip aboard a historic ship, travelling the seas surrounding the Isle of Wight in a learning initiative organised by Spectrum Medina, Southern Housing Group, and The Cirdan Sailing Trust.
Last week, ten young people between the ages of 16-25 set sail for a four-day ‘marine residential’ trip aboard ‘Queen Galadriel’, a 100-foot Baltic Vessel owned by Cirdan Sailing Trust.Starting in Gosport on Monday, the youngsters and staff from all three organisations travelled the length of the Jurassic Coast, finishing in Cowes on a sunny Friday afternoon.
The excursion was the second residential trip run for vulnerable people by ‘Natural Wight’, the Isle of Wight-based community conservation programme which aims to provide opportunities for young people and families to get out and about and explore the island through a blend of practical conservation activities and educational events. Natural Wight is funded through Natural England’s Access to Nature programme.
“We were delighted to have access to such an incredible ship for this trip, and it provided the perfect backdrop for a week of exploring thecoastline and the sea, and appreciating the unique environment of the Island” said Rachel Jagger-Thomas, Natural Wight Project Manager at Spectrum Medina.
“During the voyage, the youngsters were taught valuable team-working skills and about protecting the natural environment. They all gained a lot of experience over the four days and came away with increased levels of confidence – especially 22-year-old Matt Purdue, who received a well-deserved certificate at the end for showing the greatest personal development throughout the trip”.
The trip was co-funded by Natural Wight and a grant from Cirdan’s ‘Voyage of Discovery’ fund. This fund offers financial assistance for groups unable to cover the full cost of a voyage through their own budgets and fund raising initiatives.Cirdan exists to provide disadvantaged young people across the UK with self-development, integration and learning opportunities, through the challenge of life at sea aboard large sailing vessels.
“We have worked with Rachel from Spectrum Medina before, and we both felt that running a marine residential aboard Queen Galadriel would be a great opportunity for these young people” said Leonie Back of The Cirdan Sailing Trust.
“The aim of the voyage was not only to provide the young people with a break from their daily life and improve their health and well-being, but also to help them increase self-confidence, develop team building skills, have positive social interaction opportunities, increase their communication skills and, of course, develop an awareness of marine conservation.”
Vulnerable residents of several hostels took part in the trip, including a number from Spectrum Medina-managed Foyer For The Island, which offers a range of services that help support the transition to personal and economic independence. All of the young people that took part in the residential trip are not currently in employment, education or training.
Residential Leader Mark Cox ran a number of courses onboard for the young people over the four days, working directly alongside them to teach them about specific areas of marine conservation and to help them to learn more about the natural environment: This included marine pollution and the biodegradability of rubbish at sea, conservation zones, the impact on leisure and commercial fishing, and sea bed and sea animal conservation.
“The Marine Conservation Residential truly captured the Spirits of the Sea, giving the young crew a brilliant experience whilst at sea” said Mark.
“There were many highlights for the young people, including raising the sails by hand and ropes, climbing the crow’s nest, taking part in sea watch and crew watch, and sitting out on the bowsprit and relaxing before a hectic meal preparation for the crew of 16 people. It was truly a life-changing experience for all the crew in such amazing beautiful environments and with a friendly atmosphere”.
Following four successful days, the crew disembarked in Cowes on Friday afternoon, in the midddle of the silver anniversary of the Little Britain Challenge Cup, an annual event which welcomes all levels of sailors and quayside spectators from the housebuilding and construction industries. David Smith, Little Britain Challenge Cup Director who stepped aboard for the team picture, commented:
“It was fabulous to see these young people from the Isle of Wight enjoying their sailing experience. They could not have got their timing better, arriving at Cowes Yacht Haven smack bang in the middle of our 25th Little Britain Challenge Cup. They were surrounded by the men and women who compete at the regatta every year and generously support our chosen sailing charities in the process - one of these is Cirdan Sailing Trust who assisted Spectrum Medina with this trip.”