Setting Sail Together

Current stage: Awarded


  • Horizons (Plymouth)
  • DCRS Plymouth
  • Open Doors International Language School

Briefly describe your project

Horizons (Plymouth) Children’s Sailing Charity will partner with Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support centre (DCRS) and Open Doors International Language School (ODILS) to provide a programme of Royal Yachting Association accredited training for 6 refugee community members to progress from complete novices to competent sailors. Once participants complete their training, they will be invited to join the Horizons adult volunteer team to support the Horizon’s charitable youth sailing programme. Beyond the initial training opportunity, this project will aim to build the participants confidence around water, enhance wellbeing, reduce isolation, and improve employability.

Describe what you hope your Collective will achieve

Horizons are a small, local charity dedicated to removing barriers to sailing, each year  over 1,000 disadvantaged and disabled local young people participate in our inclusive and accessible sailing and motorboating projects. With only 3 paid staff we rely heavily on the support of our adult volunteers to deliver our projects. Since Covid-19, Horizons has faced a shortage of adult volunteers which has sometimes caused us to restrict numbers of young people sailing with us. The participants in this project will be trained and invited to join the Horizons volunteer team, this will promote inclusion, diversify our volunteer team, and enable Horizons to connect with a community who do not currently access our activities. It will provide our young sailors with a range of positive role models from different backgrounds, encouraging acceptance and inclusion. 

Horizons are a Royal Yachting Association accredited training center delivering sessions that are enjoyable, and empowering. Horizons will be responsible for all sailing and water based aspects of the project. ODILS and DCRS are well placed to identify suitable project participants. They also have the ability to encourage the local refugee community in Plymouth to engage with this project and will provide participants with pastoral care, and language and learning support to maximise the chances of success, ensuring that this project delivers a positive experience.  

On completion, we hope project participants will choose to continue with Horizons as adult volunteers. Horizons would then be able to offer fully subsidized, ongoing training opportunities for individual learning and development. 

Plymouth prides itself on being the UK’s “Ocean City”, however our beautiful coastline and marine environment can also be a site of exclusion. It is well documented that across the world BAME communities are less likely to be able to swim and will avoid marine environments. For certain communities, especially refugee communities, water is a site of exclusion and fear. Through this project we hope that our local marine and waterfront areas can provide opportunities for inclusion and community cohesion, rather than exclusion.

The project participants will have the opportunity to experience sailing, gaining new skills, and qualifications, whilst improving their English language skills, and being invited into our Horizons community. The training will emphasize team work and peer leadership to encourage a sense of confidence and collaboration. We believe this project will empower the participants, boosting their wellbeing, and delivering long term improved employment prospects, and community cohesion. 

Describe how your Collective formed

Horizons are a local charity providing inclusive sailing opportunities for young people from the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Plymouth aged 8-19 and young people with disabilities aged up to 25.

Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support (DCRS) provides advocacy, advice, support, education, and a welcoming community space for asylum seekers living in Plymouth. DCRS has over 20 years of experience in supporting asylum seekers to access legal representation, financial support, and housing. DCRS also run a varied activities programme including language support, and social groups.

For over 20 years ODILS Learning Foundation has been central to serving the Plymouth Asylum Seeker and Refugee communities, and all those of ethnicity who have an English language need. The charity also has collaborations with local universities and the Plymouth business community for Refugee employment mentoring and support.

In 2022, following conversations between volunteers and trustees Horizons provided some informal sailing taster sessions for DCRS staff and service users. The DCRS service users then expressed a keen interest in learning to sail and we have worked together to develop a way to provide that opportunity. 

Horizons will accommodate all sailing provision and provide essential equipment (buoyancy aids, waterproofs etc). DCRS and ODILs will identify individuals within the asylum seeker and refugee communities whose English language skills are at the necessary level. 

The participants will receive pastoral care and support from DCRS to facilitate maximum engagement and ongoing benefits and involvement with Horizons beyond this programme. ODILs will provide English language and learning support to maximise the participants benefit, and successful completion of the accredited training and certification assessments. We hope to use this as a pilot project, and if successful we will seek further (multi-year) funding to continue. 

Which collaboration “shape” do you expect will best describe your project?

HUB AND SPOKE – Like a bike wheel, one organisation holds things together at the centre, while other organisations perform specific tasks

In which areas would you expect most of your grant to be spent?

Training / Education