Last Friday (23rd January 2015) it was the UK Sail Training Conference in Southampton where organisations similar to Challenge Wales and operating all over the UK come together.
Quite often we see each other on the water in Small Ships and Tall Ships youth events, sometimes we pass each other while we’re doing our independent sailing voyages, and wave from afar or greet each other on the pontoon. But on this occasion there was no water in sight.
Challenge Wales isn’t quite the new kid on the block, believe it or not we are now heading into our sixth year of operation, but we are still new in the sail training world so it is a fantastic learning opportunity to meet up with fellow trustees/volunteers/staff of other sail training vessels, to stay up-to-date with what is happening in the industry and to be part of discussions and workshops and learning.
This year one of our Challenge Wales trustees, was speaking at the Conference in a session on Fundraising Successes and generating PR and sharing how Challenge Wales won not just the Big Lottery People’s Millions Award in 2013 but how we helped get the community, supporters and volunteers behind our campaign to help us win.
So what key learnings did we come back with?;
- Having positive people in your organisation who have a good approach to life are key
- The importance of getting local businesses and local authorities involved in sail training activities
- There is strong evidence that sail training works with young people who are on the NEET’s Register getting them back into education, training or employment and saving local authorities money
- Sail training should not be seen as a reward but a personal development experience.
- That young people need challenges in their life to succeed and sail training provides this
- Understanding that restorative practices can help reduce antisocial behaviour, decrease crime and restore healthy communities
But one of the things we did take away, which perfectly summarises sail training was a quote by Irving Johnson “We do not train youth for a life at sea…we use the sea to educate youth for life”.
The UK Sail Training Conference was delivered by ASTO (Association of Sail Training Organisations).