About The Ellen Gee
St Paul's Community Development Trust obtained The Ellen Gee in December 2010 from Birmingham Youth Services. During her time on the Birmingham Canals, The Ellen Gee (previously named Youth Afloat) has helped hundreds of young people in Birmingham, many of whom have fond memories aboard with skipper John Welsh.
"I remember quite clearly one of my first times on the boat was when the boat had to be turned round in a wharf in central Birmingham. I'd never been on a boat at this point and I was quite scared actually on the manoeuvre that they had to make but actually that was part of the learning curve of being on a boat", Darren Cannan, Volunteer and Ellen Gee Supporter
Why are we crowdfunding?
As an organisation, St Paul's has already managed to raise £8000 to paint the exterior of The Ellen Gee.
We now need to raise the funds to refurbish internally. To date, through previous fundraising projects, we have already successfully raised in the region of £12,500 and through crowdfunding and other fundraising projects, we want to reach our overall target of £20,000.
The refurbishment will enable St Paul's to give families, young people, the community and volunteers the chance to be part of a unique experience in the middle of Birmingham.
There will be the opportunity to get involved with working on the boat and gain new skills. This includes helping to steer and learning how to operate the locks along the way. Those involved will have the opportunity to learn how to help plan the route and navigate when experiencing residential trips. The boat will provide an alternative community space for young and old alike.
What we want to achieve
In using The Ellen Gee as another element to our Health and Wellbeing package to families and children, we want to be able to support the most vulnerable members of the community who present with many personal challenges. Integral to our existing health and wellbeing services, the boat will be a safe haven, reducing stress and depression over time, providing an alternative 'therapy' to mainstream to health services. Travelling along the waterways is a calming experience and offers an escape from the usual pressures daily life brings. The boat accommodates 12 at any one time so activities will be in small groups based around emotional well-being and providing opportunity for individual attention as well as facilitating a self-help empowering approach. This reduces the probability and likelihood of developing these 'risk factors' that are associated with requiring clinical intervention.
"We run a lot of specialist services, Sparkbrook has got a high percentage of women that have been through Domestic Abuse as an example, and again to come out here and be in an environment where they can chat to others and chat to staff over a cup of tea and relax, not in our offices or in our training rooms, that's what we want to start using it for", Alison Moore, Head of Children's Services, St Paul's Community Development Trust.
What some of our current service users say...
"This is the first time I have laughed in a long time....thank you"
"I wanted to thank you guys for the programme, I feel so much confident and strong about things I wasn't before, I am so thankful for everything"
As a Trust, we are striving to bring people together, through active participation, those in the community experiencing loneliness, isolation, socially excluded or just needing peace and time away.
The learning of new skills, through the potential volunteering opportunities on the boat, helps develop confidence and potentially employment.
Taking part in volunteering helps with physical health as it gets you out of the house and active, which is more physically healthy and reduces stress. Building social connections and meeting people helps to relieve stress and anxiety, which helps to reduce depression. The experience also supports emotional well-being as it helps to develop self-esteem and self-worth and is mentally stimulating. Being healthier and happier reduces the likelihood of developing long term, debilitating illnesses and therefore reducing the demand on the need for medical support.
The Ellen Gee will provide an outdoor educational experience for school children and specially to give those pupils who have difficulty coping in a traditional classroom or educational environment, alternative ways of learning.
This will give them the opportunity to connect with nature, learn about out City's heritage, and give those who may need the quiet space to be nurtured and supported to learn. This helps pupils develop resilience and the ability to cope. The activities provided will support children to manage and self-regulate their behaviour and own feelings, leading to increased self-confidence, self-reliance and a positive mental attitude. This helps to reduce the likelihood of children being excluded from mainstream, education, if their behaviour were to continue.
What makes The Ellen Gee great?
The Ellen Gee will provide families and young children with an experience they are unlikely to have had prior to coming to St Paul's or from living in the City. Many of the families we work with and the community do not have the opportunity to go beyond their neighbourhood. Having the boat available, moored less the 3 miles away, enables St Paul's to provide a different experience. Being able to provide residential opportunities but close by, provide reassurance to local parents who are anxious about their children staying away from home.
With this innovative approach The Ellen Gee will form part of our health and wellbeing services at St Paul's which also includes: City Farm, Community Centre and Children's Centre. Families have access to a package of support and suite of services to support their different health needs both physical, emotional and psychological. Our volunteering scheme is already well established and has very positive outcomes.
Where will your money go?
This campaign will feed into other fundraising that has taken place giving us our overall total. We want to ensure that the refurbishment is sympathetic, tasteful and respectful of the boats history and age.