Connect youngsters find their sea legs

Connect youngsters and staff with Ocean Youth Trust staff on board the sailing the 72ft yacht, Alba Explorer.
Connect youngsters and staff with Ocean Youth Trust staff on board the sailing the 72ft yacht, Alba Explorer.

Eight youngsters from Connect Berwickshire Youth Trust have spent five days sailing the Upper Clyde aboard the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland 72ft yacht, Alba Explorer.

They were taking part in OYT Scotland’s ‘On Course with CashBack’ project to transform 288 young people’s lives over three years paid for from the ‘CashBack for Communities’ scheme - the Scottish Government’s proceeds of crime fund.

Nick Fleming, chief executive of OYT Scotland said: “We are excited to have young people from Connect as our first voyage as part of the CashBack for Communities funding.

“This programme aims to develop young people and this group demonstrated that it has been a success. The combination of engaged young people and focused sea-staff means that young people can reach goals that they never thought possible and giving them a new outlook on life”.

One young Connect crew member said he had learned team work and being responsible for others whilst on board; “The best bit for me”, said another crew member “was getting to know the others well. I also learned new skills, including bosun’s duties. I’d love to come back and train to be a volunteer.”

Aboard the Alba Explorer the youngsters learned to navigate and steer the boat, hoist and drop the sails, tie knots and cook for the whole crew as they sailed almost 150 nautical miles, calling in at Holy Loch, Tarbert, and Campbeltown.

All received the Royal Yachting Association’s Start Yachting Level 1 Award, and took the opportunity to complete Level 3 SQA qualifications in numeracy, communications, problem solving and working with others.

Connect youth worker Shirley Jefferson said: “The young people on this voyage have come from three different areas in Berwickshire, and although they didn’t know each other at the start, they worked brilliantly as a team.”

William Sinclair Connect’s assistant youth worker found the voyage a useful part of his training: “It was a great experience which allowed me to get to know the young people better and build a closer relationship with them.”