Projects to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people

Ocean Youth Trust South

Founded in 1960, OYT South is a charity that uses adventure under sail to help young people develop the skills to succeed in life.  Many young people who have sailed with the charity are convinced that their voyages with OYT were life changing for them.

JP & Harry’s Story:

Harry, who was 13 when he first sailed, said, “I have always been a bit different, I get nervous about small things. OYT South has, without a doubt, changed my life.” Now aged 16, he talks with enthusiasm about the things he has had the confidence to try and adds, “Every member of the sea staff I have met is amazing and made an impression on me that will last a lifetime.

JP was also 13 when he first sailed but is now in his thirties. He sees a clear connection between his teenage sail training experiences and the successful adult life he enjoys today. Like Harry, he struggled with dyslexia, leading to low self-esteem and depression.  JP had very little hope for his future.

His first voyage was a revelation to him: he excelled in practical tasks and teamwork and found himself, against all his expectations, winning praise and mastering new skills more easily than some of his peers. He returned for three more voyages before leaving school and learned more about himself each time. Measuring angles at school with a protractor had made no sense to him in the abstract, but when applied to measuring the impact of tide on the track of a sailing vessel, it all came together. JP thrived when treated as a valued member of the team whose opinions mattered and he was inspired by the passion and dedication of OYT South’s staff and volunteers. Today, JP runs his own fuel distribution business, employs staff and owns his home.  He has never forgotten the role that OYT South played in setting him on this path.

Whirlwind’s Role:

The Whirlwind Charitable Trust has been a supporter of OYT South for many years, contributing to refit costs of its sail training vessels and other expenses.  This has included a mainsail for ‘John Laing’ and a cruising chute for ‘Prolific’.


Venture Trust

The Venture Trust’s Living Wild initiative supports some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged people aged 16-40 who have become involved in the criminal justice system. The personal development programme uses a person-centred approach to create tailored support to meet the individuals’ needs. Venture Trust use a three-phased approach to personal development, it supports participants in their communities and the transformative 10-day wilderness journey helps to facilitate effective behaviour change. The third phase of the programme of mentoring improves stability and wellbeing, reduces risk of offending and prepares people for work.

Outreach workers provide practical, emotional and pastoral support and through one-to-one meetings carried out in participant’s communities.  In addition group sessions ensure people are ready to benefit from the wilderness journey. For many, stabilising their lifestyles enough to be offered a chance to take part the wilderness journey represents a considerable achievement.  Some participants are able to progress straight into education, training or employment.

Declan’s Story

Declan was living in homeless accommodation, suffering from poor mental health and unemployed.  Following a Venture Trust presentation at the Mungo Foundation Project, Declan was referred to Venture Trust’s personal development programme.

He took part in Venture Trust’s ‘Wilderness Journey’ which usually takes place in the highlands of Scotland. It involves intensive learning and personal development.  Individuals are able to consolidate their new skills which helps boost confidence, motivation, and aspirations.  For Declan, the idea of combining his love of the outdoors with learning and personal development was appealing. Today, Declan is now living in his own flat and works outdoors which helps his mental health and general wellbeing.

“The wilderness journey was just magic. I was genuinely just so happy out there.  Lying about under the stars.  Any time I’m feeling stressed and worked up, I know the place for me to go. I know I can chill out just by being there.”

“I had some problems with my mental health and I’m quite reluctant to ask for help. That was one of the main things I was working on. The situations you’re in while you’re there, you don’t really have any other option than to ask for help. You do things like crossing rivers and stuff, and it’s not like you can just throw your backpack on and march through.”

Whirlwind’s Role

The Whirlwind Charitable Trust provided a donation to support the programme.  In the the year since then, Living Wild had 376 referrals and engaged 178 people on the programme. They ran ten wilderness journeys in this period, with 93 participants.

During the period, Living Wild supported 28 individuals into employment, education, training or volunteering opportunities. Finding, securing and sustaining a positive destination is a significant accomplishment for these individuals as securing employment reduces the risk of reoffending.

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Sea-Change Sailing Trust

Sea-Change provides residential opportunities for young, disadvantaged people and vulnerable adults to learn and develop in a unique environment. By living and working together aboard a traditional sailing vessel, they acquire a wide range of life skills.

Young people, who initially sail with the charity as members of youth or care groups, are offered the opportunity to return independently, to build on their experience and to undertake more structured traditional seamanship training.  This is the basis of Sea-Change’s Youth Sailing Scheme which can offer more advanced training for those considering a maritime career.  This programme is particularly suited to those who would like to train to work on a sailing barge.

Sail Barge Blue Mermaid

Sea-Change owns and operates SB Blue Mermaid. She was completed in 2018 and is a replica of one built in 1930 but lost in the war.  Engineless, she operates entirely under sail, employing wind and tide.  She has the capacity to load and deliver cargo, for a sail training vessel to have value, she must carry commercially viable cargo and do so without mechanical assistance.

Whirlwinds role:

The Whirlwind Charitable Trust has provided Sea-Change with ongoing support over many years. It has given numerous groups the opportunity to sail on SB, Blue Mermaid.  To quote Patron Tom Cunliffe, “When a young person steps ashore after discharging a cargo they have personally worked across days and nights of deep water and shoal, they will look up at the towering spars and begin to know their true worth as individuals. It is as simple as that. The cost in money terms is minimal. The pay-off in turning lives around is invaluable.”