Young people with mental health challenges to benefit from £10k watersports grant

20 October 2020

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Boats in seaTwo groups of young people facing mental health challenges will take to the water this winter thanks to a £10,000 Sport England grant for activities at Hengistbury Head Outdoor Education Centre.

Yachting and powerboating, with the chance of certification, plus outdoor games and team-building opportunities, will all be on the list of activities.

One of the main drivers of the initiative is an enthusiasm to help reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 on the young people’s mental health.

Brockenhurst College, which runs the council owned facility, said the money will initially support 10-12 activity sessions for residents at NHS assisted living facility Pebble Lodge.

It added that eight of its students would participate in the same activities as a separate group.

The money was part of a £150,000 fund allocated to the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), which then passed the £10,000 on under its Tackling Inequalities scheme.

Luke Webb from Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Hengistbury Head sessions are a highlight of the week for many of the young people at Pebble Lodge.

“The ability to take part in an outdoor activity provides them with the freedom to explore their boundaries in a safe and well managed environment.

“The young people and staff feel that taking part in these activities supports relationship building and trust too, which is a vital part to the young people’s recovery and deeply meaningful to the staff that support them.”

Chief Instructor at the Centre, Jo Sheppard, submitted the successful bid to the RYA, which detailed her vision for the winter and outlined scope to extend activities into the Spring.

Jo said: “Seeing these young people light up as they get onto the water is remarkable.

“This money means an opportunity for a positive distraction that enables them to do something new, feel some exhilaration, take pride and also enjoy a social experience.

“My most sincere thanks go to Sport England and the Royal Yachting Association, because I know exactly how much of a difference this grant will make.”

Pebble Lodge and Hengistbury Head formed a connection two-and-a-half years ago, when money was donated to get young people with mental health difficulties outdoors and on the water.