2016 was another great season for OutSailing, as three events took place, taking a total of 34 vulnerable young LGBTQ people out onto the water.
In July, volunteer leaders and role models took a group of 14 young people from BreakOut Youth, based in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to UKSA in Cowes for a weekend out on the water. Breakout Youth is an independent charity that offers a confidential support service for young people aged 11 to 21, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) their sexuality or gender identity. The young people came from four groups in Hampshire, and for some, it was the first time they had met. They were able to get to know each other on the ferry across to the Isle of Wight to the sailing centre.
As soon as the group arrived, it was straight into wetsuits for some raft-building. Getting into a wetsuit was challenging enough for some of the young people who had shyness/body image issues. Gentle coaxing and support from the instructors and volunteers helped a lot. During Saturday, they were taught to rig and sail J80 Keelboats.
The calm winds were nice for the beginners, however the wind picked up during the afternoon, and you could positively feel the buzz and excitement as they all came home. Scary, but excitement beyond anything they could have imaged. Sunday was calmer, so they took a kayak trip up the River Medina.
Gradually over time you see the young people overcome shyness, learn to to trust their peers and really come out of their shells. It was especially amazing to observe the young woman with Asperger’s syndrome, who could barely lift her head at the dinner table, start engaging with people, becoming talkative and animated – telling stories by the end of the weekend.
Many of the young people shared their stories and experiences. Some had supportive/accepting families, some didn’t. Some had supportive/accepting friends, some didn’t. ALL had experienced some form of prejudice or bullying and ALL were vulnerable due to their experiences in society.
OutSailing aims to continue helping these young people have a fun and rewarding experience alongside positive role models to help them feel good about themselves.
Particularly lovely this year was the fact that we had a previous participant of OutSailing activities along as a volunteer to support the group.
Thanks to volunteers from S&CA who helped support the group.
Next year we’re working towards doing a weekend residential with them all again at Bewl Water – lets hope for more wind then!
Ladyburn Lake, Druridge Bay Country Park, Northumberland Sat/Sun 4/5 July 2015
For the second time we visited the Coquet Shorebase Trust sailing centre for a two day event of sailing and kayaking. The group this year from DISC were all female and most had never been in a boat before. There were a lot of nerves, as some were not confident in the water, and this is a big thing to overcome. However, with the patient support of the instructors, and confidence in the safety equipment, even the non swimmers got out onto the water. Some of the young people were even jumping into the water from the end of the pontoon by the end of the weekend.
We split the group into two, so half could do sailing in Quba sailing dinghies and a catamaran, whilst the others paddled the lake in kayaks. The group swapped each day at lunchtime.
We stay in Alnwick Youth Hostel, and were once again well looked after by the staff with
dinner, breakfast and packed lunch.
The residential trips are such rewarding events, and the group has more time to bond, learn and grow in confidence, therefore raising their personal self esteem.
Saturday 4th July Bewl Water, Kent
To make the trip more more interesting, this group of young people from Allsorts, in Brighton were driven by minibus to Bewl Water in Kent.
There was a nervous excited as the group gathered in the morning, as this was a brand new experience for all involved. Many were uncertain what to expect, and some of the young people were new to the group. As they got to know one another, the banter began and as they all supported one another so well, you could see individuals grow in confidence. The beautiful weather allowed everyone to be in shorts and t-shirts, and the fair winds was kind to the beginners.
Once the instructors had given the briefing, lift jackets were fitted, and it was down to the waterfront to rig the boats. The group sailed in single handed ‘Toppers’ which meant they had a boat each, allowing for a rewarding and immediate experience. The group learnt how to rig and sail the boat, and were taught what to do in the event of a capsize. The fear of capsize is quite high, but once you have done it the fear disappears….. and there certainly makes it easier the next time!!
The group were exhausted by the end of the day and many fell asleep on the minibus. All couldn’t wait to go sailing again.
Sunday 14th June
This was a much smaller group this year.. allowing really personal one to one coaching session. Laser 2000 was the dinghy of the day used and
The day were a little overcast, but with light winds the conditions were perfect for beginners. With a small group we were able to do sailing all day, and each young person gained in confidence as the day progressed. Taking it in turns to helm and crew, the team bonded in a way that most have not experience before.
All the young people enjoyed the event and can’t wait until the next one
OutSailing Manchester with The Albert Kennedy Trust 12th July 2014
Hollingworth Lake, Rochdale
The group were excited, but some were nervous. C and I met the group at the train station: there were four young people, an AKT volunteer and a worker.
We were lucky to have near perfect conditions, sun and a light to moderate breeze. The young people sailed Picos, while I sailed a Laser 2000 with the leaders and C took photos from the safety-boat.
The group were all over the lake, so I asked them to follow us and directed them to sail follow-my-leader. It got a bit too much for H, sailing a Pico on her own – she was slightly petrified! So I got her into the L2000 which she was soon happy to helm. She said it was “exciting”. G found it “really enjoyable” and L took to it really well, “Once I got the hang of ropes then everything was plain sailing!” And all said they were keen to try sailing again.
We all kayaked in the afternoon, giving us the opportunity to be together as a group. They all enjoyed paddling and playing games and one person found this to be more fun than sailing. The day was a great success. The group and leaders said they had all had a great day and were very thankful to us for making the day possible.
Later, we had a message from H to say a big thank you to OutSailing for providing the funding and opportunity for the group. For one young man, it turned out to be a momentous day, as it gave him the confidence to take a very positive step forward in his life.
C did a great job of building a good rapport with the young people and staff. I couldn’t have managed the day without him!
OutSailing Brighton with Allsorts, 30th August 2014
Lagoon Watersports, Brighton Marina
Working in conjunction with Allsorts Youth Group (an organisation supporting disadvantaged LGBT young people from Brighton), we held the first Brighton OutSailing event on 30 August at Lagoon Watersports at Brighton Marina.
Seven young people and one member of staff, as well as J from OutSailing took part on a very blustery day. The group travelled up to the marina by minibus and after the obligatory McDonalds breakfast muffin, we pulled on our oilies and set about rigging up the two Sigma keelboats that we would be sailing for the day.
Once out of Brighton marina, the sailing novices were met by some really bouncy and testing conditions. Despite this, and that two of the group (including the leader) were ‘re-visiting’ their McDonalds, everyone returned back to base, exhilarated and grinning from ear to ear.
Over lunchtime, the weather worsened and eventually the afternoon sailing was called off. Lagoon Watersports instructors kept us entertained by organising knot-tying competitions and showed us how to de-rig the boats. They also gave us a tour of the marina by boat. Not quite the sailing experience that everyone was hoping for, but a relaxing time out on the water nevertheless.
Since the event, J has returned to Allsorts to talk with two of the participants who are keen to find out how to get more involved with sailing.
Quotes from the young people about the event:
“The opportunity to have a go with something that I would never have had a chance to was the best part about the sailing trip. Besides that I thoroughly enjoyed being on the sea and learning about sailing.”
“I learned different types of knots and how to sail plus some new friendships and bonds.”
“I’d recommend it to my 85 year old nan if she wasn’t scared of sailing!”
“One of the better experiences of the trip was being out on the water, feeling free.”
“It was amazing! I would like to go again but I’d warn people not to go on a boat with me in case I’m sick on them, haha!”
OutSailing Newcastle with The Albert Kennedy Trust, 30-31 August 2014
Coquet Shorebase Trust, Ladyburn Lake, Druridge Bay Country Park
This new venture for OutSailing showed great promise, with most of the young people arriving at the meeting place before us! From Newcastle City centre, the minibus drove us to the sailing centre. The setting was absolutely beautiful.
We divided into two groups, for sailing and kayaking, and swapped over at lunchtime. It was blowing a hoolie and affected the confidence of some of the non-swimmers. We sailed two-up in Qubas (similar to a Pico) and with the three experienced S&CA members taking a boat each, we managed to avoid all but one capsize! And it was our most experienced sailor that managed to capsize…. who is not so confident in the water. It went like this… M to F, “You hang on to me!”. F to M, “No, I think you had better hang on to me!”
C calmly passed on a huge degree of confidence to the young people who were able to start tackling the challenging conditions themselves. And one young man saved me from a pretty embarrassing capsize, as he instinctively reached for the mainsheet. Meanwhile, the kayakers battled paddling into the wind.
We took a very tired group to a youth hostel for the night, where after dinner we all watched X- Factor with a very funny running commentary. With the Newcastle accent, we had many Cheryl Coles in the room!
Day two was sunny and warm with not a hint of wind! So we varied the activities. Some took out the Qubas single-handed. Some went out on a catamaran and played on the trapeze, while others kayaked and took out a Canadian canoe. As we were on a lake, we could all see each other. Being able to stay together as a group even though we were doing different activities. It was quite extraordinary.
These events on day two gave some of the young people a real opportunity to shine, and we felt some of them would be ready to be put forward for their RYA Level 1&2 sailing courses.
This weekend was both successful and rewarding and one to be repeated soonest.
Feedback for the AKT Office included:
“One of the young people said he was not in a good place mentally before he went on the trip due to stresses up here but he said he was glad he went and it was probably the best weekend of his life”
“Not only did the young people have a great time and learn new skills we feel that this has helped us to improve our working relationships with those who attended“
OutSailing Cowes with The Albert Kennedy Trust 30-31 August 2014
The group wasn’t difficult to spot in the middle of Waterloo station. The leader from Albert Kennedy in a bright purple T-shirt surrounded by a disparate group of young people. Another of those awkward moments in life – I don’t know them and they don’t know each other. I smile, say hello and introduce myself. What on earth have I let myself in for?
No time for nerves – there a job to be done. Learn the names, count them, get the tickets, get everyone on the train, off the train onto the bus, on to the ferry. Coffee and chat. Off the ferry, meet the instructors, walk to sailing school, brief students, allocate rooms, arrange supper time. Stage one complete. Phew!
7pm: Swimming pool and Water Polo. Hmm, I wouldn’t have arranged that as the first activity with self-conscious youngsters. Surprise – group bonding in the swimming pool the best thing. Everyone relaxed and had brilliant fun. The group is a mixed bunch of young men, young women, different races and backgrounds. All are there because of issues related to LGBT and supported by The Albert Kennedy Trust. Saturday 9.30am: Sailing in keelboats, Cowes harbour. 10am and still not ready – some of the youngsters are still sorting their hair and make-up. Finally, we have four in each boat and start chugging out to the open water. Force 4-5 could be interesting – is this a good idea? Some are beaming and loving every moment, others look very much out of comfort zone. Sails up, bear away, ready about, lee-ho!
They just love it. Well, apart from M, who starts to look pale and goes rather quiet. He has already opted out of the group and had some arguments with another boy. Not all plain sailing. Gusting force 6 – I catch the instructor looking a bit anxious – they decide to head back to base. M looks relieved, the others want more – but conditions are deteriorating beyond the comfort zone of the instructor so we go back. A bit of disappointment, but then the SUPs (stand up paddle boards) come out and everyone plays around in the safer water next to the base. The earlier work on the hair-do’s was a waste of time but now no-one seems to care. Young people and adults simply having fun on the water.
Sunday 9.30 am – Canoeing trip. All ready to go on time today. Lovely paddle up to the Folly Inn. Sandwiches and birthday cake washed down with fizzy drinks. More jumping, swimming and SUP. What a great weekend.
The late summer sun shone brightly as we cruised up Southampton water on the Red Funnel ferry, passing cruise ships. The young people sat on the deck in a tight circle re-living the weekend through stories. They swapped Facebook contacts and took group selfies. M, who had found it so difficult to join in, wanted most to meet up again.
One young person said,
“It’s just like the holidays you see your friends going on – on FaceBook.”