Ocean Youth Trust Scotland (OYTS) has been hit by the Coronavirus restrictions perhaps harder than most CashBack partners. For 15 months, it has been impossible to take young people out on voyages, which is at the heart of OYTS youth work.
Undaunted, Barry McLaughlin, the Trust’s Youth Development Worker, has worked hard to adapt the programme, finding ways to offer young people land-based activities which meet the ever-changing restrictions.
Unable to offer any residential activity during the pandemic, Barry has instead been delivering a pioneering shore-based support programme, offering activities such as white water tubing, archery, orienteering, crate climbing, kayaking and paddle boarding. This has enabled him to build relationships with the young people and give them fun experiences, which have been very welcome after a year of limited opportunities. The programme has taught young people about risk-taking behaviours on land and at sea, while allowing them to take part in activities that nurture confidence, resilience, teamwork and personal and social skills.
While this has been an excellent way to engage and support young people, nothing beats getting the young folk out on the sailing boats. As restrictions have eased, Barry has further revised the programme to enable this to happen. The boats don’t allow for overnight stays under the current Covid-19 restrictions, so Barry and the Trust have been busy exploring other options. They are delighted that this week, on 28th July, the first group were able to set sail for the maiden voyage of Phase 5 of CashBack.
Eight young people aged 13-15 from St Paul’s Youth Forum, Provanhill, North East Glasgow, set off from Greenock on Wednesday to spend three days on the charity’s 70-foot yacht, Alba Venturer. At night, they will camp at Inverkip.
The voyages aim to support young people and communities most at risk of being affected by crime, and the participants sailing have been identified as those most likely to benefit from early intervention.
The voyages will enable participants to attain SQA awards and RYA yachting qualifications, as well as developing their confidence and resilience. Getting the young people outdoors, learning life skills and trying new activities in a safe and structured environment will also help them emerge from the pandemic more resilient and on track for more positive life destinations.
Neil Young, Youth Team Leader St Paul’s Youth Forum, Glasgow, highlighted the many benefits of the programme:
“As young people growing up in a community surrounded by crime, it is easy to be drawn into a negative lifestyle. By partnering with Ocean Youth Trust Scotland, the team has helped our young people, who were already struggling with the pandemic, to try new activities, be surrounded by positive role models and recognise their own value. The activities and voyage have been a great way to promote positive mental health, not only for them, but rippling through our community, especially seeing the proceeds of crime being used to support the area. These young people will have a voyage of a lifetime – experiencing activities that few in their area could dream of. Our partnership with Ocean Youth Trust and Cashback for Communities ensures that the young people we work with, who miss out on so much, have a positive future to look forward to.”
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said:
“It is vital that we offer young people an alternative to a life of crime. OYT is a fantastic example of a project that builds confidence, resilience, teamwork and social skills that will be immensely useful on and off the water.
“Covid has affected us all and it is incredibly heartening that as we recover from the pandemic, an organisation like OYT is using our CashBack for Communities programme, funded through the proceeds of crime, to get back to doing such valuable work.
“The benefits will be felt not just by the young people that take part in these exciting activities but also by our wider communities.”