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