The Blue Spirit Project
Hosted by Sail Boat Project
One in four people will face a mental health challenge at some stage in their life, and none are more affected these days than our youth. At the same time, research has shown that being in blue spaces (like the sea) can have a positive effect on stress reduction and wellbeing. You can find out more here.
This is why the Blue Spirit – Laury Gratiet Bursary Fund – set up in memory of Laury (see video) – grants sailing bursaries to young people aged 18 to 25 who are experiencing a mental health challenge or facing social / economic disadvantage.
Blue Spirit works in partnership with two charitable enterprises in the South-East and North-East of England which offer sailing experiences to young people. These organisations - Sail Boat Project in Chichester and Ocean Youth Trust North (OYTN) in North Shields - have a wealth of experience in providing safe and exhilarating sailing experiences to a wide range of people.
Sailing has multiple benefits. Not only can spending time and doing activities in the fresh air on the ocean in itself have a positive impact on mental and physical health, but learning to sail also helps develop essential life skills. Sailing can help people:
- build confidence and resilience
- challenge their perceived limitations
- develop employability skills
- work collectively and even lead a team
- improve decision-making skills
- make new friends & have fun
“Seeing where I live from a different perspective, the sea, helped give me a different perspective on my life.”
Established in memory of a young man who died during the pandemic from mental health issues, the Blue Spirit bursary fund responds to the increased social isolation resulting from pandemic restrictions, and their negative impacts on mental health and wellbeing. It focuses on supporting youngsters aged 18-25.
The fund partners with community groups and charities who are well-placed to identify and refer young people who desperately need this kind of experience - to come out from their bubbles, learn new skills and get a different perspective. Participants and clients of these organisations come from wide-ranging backgrounds: refugees & asylum seekers, young carers, people in recovery from addiction, youngsters with experience of homelessness, youth from the transgender community, BAME women, young people with a disability and others.
This fund is not limited to people suffering from mental health issues; but is for any young person who would not normally be able to access this kind of experience and who would benefit from enhanced wellbeing, gaining self-confidence or an opportunity to have time for themselves in nature. It is a preventive approach to mental health, much needed in these times that are especially challenging for young people who have seen their studies, careers, plans and dreams put on hold.
How we will use the money raised
Donations will go directly towards enabling a young person to get on a boat and go sailing under the expert supervision and amazing company of the SBP and OYTN. Blue Spirit will cover all expenses for a young person's sailing experience from sailing waterproofs and boots to healthy meals on board.
Bursaries will be awarded both to young people referred by our partner organisations and those who apply directly, as long as they qualify for a bursary. This includes youngsters on low incomes who are passionate about sailing and want to work towards nationally-recognised qualifications, as part of Sail Boat Project's Career Launch programme.
The Blue Spirit bursary fund is housed by Sail Boat Project which will providing activities for young people in the South East of England as well as disbursing funds to OYTN for sailing activities for young people in the North East who meet our bursary criteria.
Registered as a Community Interest Company, Sail Boat Project provides a range of learning activities based around sailing. We widen access to the sea, offering sail training onboard and navigation training on land, using these activities to increase confidence and a sense of wellbeing in marginalised coastal communities. We build relationships with individuals and organisations who are, or who work with, marginalised people, helping them to get the most out of the activities and opportunities we provide.
Find out more about Sail Boat Project.
SBP is a sailing school with a difference. Not only do we teach sailing commercially, we are also an RYA Sailability organisation and have other focused projects such as dementia sails and recovery sails for people with addictions, which are integrated into our wider work. We also welcome people with complex needs to join our regular scheduled trips, leading to a high level of contact between commercial and community participants, which in turn has led many of our regular customers on our trips and courses to go on to volunteer in our community sails programme.
The enduring relationships we have developed with a wide range of community groups are a testament to the positive impact we have on groups and individual participants.
You can read more about the impact of Sail Boat Project's Community Sails here.
The effects of COVID-19
Since the beginning of the first COVID-19 lockdown, many of our activities have been suspended.
We have managed to remain engaged with the community groups we work with and with existing volunteers who have helped refurbish one of our sail training vessels. We have also begun a series of free webinars on navigation and other topics which have had up to 80 attendees.
However, what we really want is to be able to get back on the water and carry on providing the service that is so beneficial to so many people.
The injection of energy and funds provided by this new initiative will give a boost to our renewed activity, and will help us sail to recovery.
THANK YOU for helping us support young people during this challenging time!