This is a guest post from Max, who joined the Challenge Wales team in March 2014 and gives a personal insight into his first couple of weeks on the job… from the office to the boat.
Firstly, I must say how much I am enjoying working for Challenge Wales, not only the feeling of working for a charity, but also being made to feel part of something and wanted. Other places of work act like you are dispensable, just another cost that they can replace at any time without any real thought. At Challenge Wales you are treated as an equal and with respect, which seems to be forgotten by other organisations. This simple attitude switch was almost alien to me and I am thankful I have found myself in this situation.
Every day I learn more about the charity, how it runs and what we can do to expand and grow. The focus is young people (aged 12 – 25 years) and how we can reach more of them and offer them our services (which can help improve their employment prospects through the development of key life skills). I have been looking for new young people’s groups to contact, to tell them the Challenge Wales story and the benefits it brings to young people, and encourage participation in sail training activities. If anyone has a suggestion then please don’t hesitate to suggest it. Finding new groups is interesting and rewarding but also challenging. I am using the skills I learnt at university and using new ones that Andy and Vicky (two of the charity’s Trustees) have taught me in the short time I have been here.
In order for me to have a real idea of how sail training works I needed to experience a day aboard Challenge Wales. This was a great experience. We departed Penarth, headed through the Cardiff Barrage locks and out into the Bristol Channel. I spent the first part of the trip learning and working hard, trying to be a help rather than be a hindrance. I learnt the names of the different lines and sails and the importance of teamwork.
Volunteer crew took the time to teach me, showing patience with my enthusiasm and lack of knowledge. The worst part of my experience was also the best. Half way through the day I descended into the depths of the boat and found the heads (aka the toilets). After 20 minutes of struggling with my clothing (I was kitted out in Challenge Wales waterproof trousers & jacket, layers of clothes and lifejacket) and the angle of the yacht I finally managed to return to the deck feeling a little worse for wear….getting too hot and losing sight of the horizon can contribute to sea-sickness. My discomfort must have been obvious from people’s questions of ‘are you alright?’ Soon after I was being sick off the side of the boat. This was the worst moment of the voyage, however the volunteer’s reaction made it one of the best parts. Whilst being sick off the boat I felt a hand support me on the back of my jacket and hold me steady and safe. A volunteer called Bob came over to me and clipped me onto the boat and talked me through what they were going to do. He helped me down the boat to the stern so I could be safer and more comfortable while I was feeling unwell. Everyone was kind and thoughtful when speaking to me and I had someone keeping an eye on me at all times. Their concern and insistence that it wasn’t something to be embarrassed about and that every one of them had been in the same position at some point gave me the feeling of being part of a team. I didn’t feel embarrassed and this is down to the way I was treated by the crew. For this I say a huge thank you to everyone on Challenge Wales that day, I appreciated it immensely. I will not forget that day and am now looking forward to my next day out sailing.
The experience aboard Challenge Wales has given me the confidence to go out and speak to people about the charity and what we do; broadening young people’s horizons, supporting young people to develop. I feel my ability to promote the charity has really benefited from the day and I would recommend it to any young person as a way of making friends, learning to sail and gaining skills that will be used throughout life.
This blog was written by Max who joined the Challenge Wales team through the Jobs Growth Wales programme which gives employment opportunities to unemployed young people. Max experienced a one day Challenge Experience day which is an over 18 adult fundraising trip. On all our sailing voyages no sailing experience is required to take part. Our youth sail training voyages are usually five days duration.
To find out more about the voyages we offer for young people, individuals, groups and adults then visit our sailing schedule.