From sleeping rough to rigging sails

A North East sail training charity has reached out to some of the region’s most vulnerable people and taken a group of homeless people on the ‘Voyage of a Lifetime’, changing their lives in the process.

Ocean Youth Trust North teamed up with Newcastle-based charity The Cyrenians to take a group of individuals on a sailing trip described as the ‘Voyage of a Lifetime.’

The group were made up of nine male and female service users from The Cyrenians charity. They all had an interest in sailing and spent four days aboard the OYT North yacht James Cook sailing up the coast, learning new skills and experiencing life at sea.

The trip was intended to increase the individuals’ self-confidence and give them an opportunity to discover their own potential. It was funded by the Community Foundation.

Terry, a resident at The Cyrenians, felt so inspired by the voyage that he has now registered as a volunteer at OYT North.

He said: “The voyage was an unbelievable experience and I am so pleased I was able to take part – it is something that I will never forget. It was extremely hard work but there was a huge sense of satisfaction knowing you had done a full day’s hard graft.

“I could have easily spent more than the four days onboard and I am keen to keep involved in more sailing activities in the future. I registered to volunteer with the James Cook and I am thoroughly looking forward to it.”

Steve Lennon, General Manager of OYT North, said: “Learning a new skill such as sailing can inspire people to achieve and continue developing their skills. Working with The Cyrenians gave us a fantastic opportunity to deliver these opportunities to those members of society who are often passed over.

“We offer sail training to individuals from any background – those that have sailing experience and those who have never been on boat before. Invariably everybody we work with has a fantastic time and leaves with a renewed sense of purpose and self-belief. It can really be a transformative experience and I’m delighted that some of the people who took part in this voyage have decided to continue their journey with us as volunteers.

“Many of those who have started as volunteers with OYT North in the past have gone on to find careers in sailing. This includes our very own skipper Grace Metcalfe who joined us as a volunteer when she was 17. This goes to show that the benefits of learning how to sail can take you even further than you may have expected.”

OYT North specialises in personal development through the medium of ocean sailing. They work with people from all backgrounds and encourage them to use their sailing experience as a tool to develop skills, build up self esteem and develop awareness of the needs of others.

The Cyrenians work with some of the most vulnerable and socially excluded people in the North East. This voyage gave participants a chance to develop their teamwork skills, and built their self-esteem and confidence, with the aim of supporting the individuals to rejoin society.

Back To News