Boat trips improve independence and confidence
Local people with disabilities developed essential life skills in ‘thrilling’ boat trips funded by Royal Southern Yacht Club Trust.

Back in August, Cowes Sailability Club teamed up with the Way Forward Programme to offer accessible boat trips for ten people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, autism or mental health conditions. The two excursions promoted mental well-being and helped the participants to improve their self-confidence in an unfamiliar and challenging environment.

The Way Forward Programme is part of the Isle of Wight charity Osel Enterprises and offers services to support to people whilst they build up the skills they need to live as independently as possible. Tracy Hill, CEO of Osel Enterprises, says: “Everyone absolutely loved being out in the fresh air and on the water after the previous COVID restrictions. Activities like this are extremely important because they promote independence and improve self-worth.”

She adds: “It is really important for individuals to be able to take part in new activities, away from their family, where they can build relationships with new friends and gain in confidence. There was a feeling of excitement and anxiety at the same time on both trips, but reassurance from friends, staff members and Cowes Sailability Club volunteers really helped them turn their experience into a day to remember. Thank you, Cowes Sailability for a thrilling day out.”

Cowes Sailability Club was able to provide funding for these activities thanks to support from the Royal Southern Yacht Club, based on the Hamble near Southampton. Cowes Sailability Club received a grant of £350 from the Royal Southern Yacht Club Trust, which was set up following a bequest from the late Sir Michael Cobham to create opportunities for everyone to engage in sailing and boating activities.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Royal Southern Yacht Club Trust for awarding us a grant in 2021,” says Trish Rooke, Fundraising Officer for Cowes Sailability Club. “The two trips that we were able to organise for the Way Forward Programme with this funding enabled ten people with a range of disabilities to have a really fun, memorable and worthwhile experience on the water.”

For both trips, Cowes Sailability Club chartered a nine-metre catamaran called Wetwheels Hamble, owned and operated by the Wetwheels Foundation. The boat has been specially designed to cater for people with disabilities and can accommodate up to three wheelchair users at any one time.