The UKSA: “Edmiston funding helped Sea.Change get off the ground”

A scheme to improve social mobility in the marine world is helping hundreds of youngsters each year

Since 2020, we have been working with national maritime charity, the United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA), through our charitable arm, the Edmiston Foundation, to address diversity within the superyacht industry.

The focus of this partnership is the Sea.Change Foundation, which aims to widen access to maritime training and employment to children and young people from the most underrepresented and disadvantaged groups in the UK, giving them a real chance to forge a career in the maritime sector.

Here we speak with Amy Sweeting, Director of Fundraising at UKSA, to find out how the Sea.Change Foundation is improving social mobility in the marine world.

Can you tell us a little about the Sea. Change Foundation and what it aims to achieve?

Our two strategic priorities are extended reach and maritime depth; reaching those children who would most benefit from an adventure on the water and providing structured and funded pathways to enable them to excel in the maritime industry.

An important step in our pathway is our fully funded Sea.Change programme, an inspirational five-day residential trip for 14–17-year-olds, with a specific focus on those from disadvantaged backgrounds. We know that those from deprived areas have less access to outdoor education, employment pathways and fun activities. The programme helps these young people to build life skills, make new friends and learn about training and careers in the maritime sector.

What are some of the biggest barriers to people breaking into the maritime industry?

The main barrier to entering the maritime industry is accessibility, whether that’s through a lack of understanding about the maritime industry and what it has to offer, or a financial barrier to courses and training.

How does the UKSA aim to overcome these barriers?

At UKSA, we build strategic partnerships with schools, charities and organisations across the UK who are already working with children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. By working in partnership, we can easily reach those young people who would most benefit from our funded programmes and pathways.

Our Sea.Change programme is a brilliant introduction to the maritime industry, while also letting the teenagers have fun. Through our funding streams, we remove any financial, social, or economic barrier to accessing our programme and training courses.

What have been some of the success stories of the programme?

The one that comes to mind right now is Tom. Tom first came to us on a Sea.Change programme with his school in Portsmouth. He was a fairly shy boy, didn’t really have much happening in his life and had never been on a boat.

He enjoyed his week so much that he came back to do the Sea.Change programme again. His confidence grew, he became a natural team leader and when our Royal Patron, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, came to open our new residential building recently, he gave a speech in front of a room full of guests.

Tom came back to us to do some work experience, helping to teach children and the daily running of our programmes. He’s coming back to us again to do a two-year further education course and then wants to go into the maritime industry. That’s just one of so many success stories, inspiring those who would never have the chance to find a dream and be fully supported to follow it.

Have there been any surprises along the way?

Working with children and young people is always full or surprises. We are constantly learning what we can do better and what learning we can share with our partner charities.

I think the main surprise for us has been learning all the different ways that we can work with such a diverse group of children and young people. For example, we have grown our Welfare Team and Industry Guidance Team after realising that many of these children and young people come from challenging backgrounds and need a different type of support. We want our beneficiaries to have an equal footing when entering the industry and continue to develop our ways of working to meet their needs.

Why do you think a scheme like this is so important?

Children and young people are constantly adjusting to a different world than we lived in even just a few years ago. Our programmes offer an escape from the world of mobile phones and social media, encouraging them to leave their comfort zones and build new life skills. Not only that, but we also open up a world of opportunity in a continuously growing industry.

I think the proof is in stories like that of Tom and the incredible growing demand from young people wanting to attend the programme – we’ve seen an increase in interest of 900% in two years. It is clear to us that we are offering something that really changes our beneficiaries’ lives and now we need to work out how we can grow to keep up with that demand.

How has Edmiston funding helped you achieve your aims?

We launched the Sea.Change Foundation in partnership with the Edmiston Foundation. Without their investment in our mission, we would not have been able to get this programme off the ground or have funded as many young people to take part as we have. We launched the programme in 2020, welcoming 50 beneficiaries. This year, we are looking to fund 350 young people and next year, more than 500. Without funding from Edmiston, this would never be possible.

Are there other ways people can help support the programme?

The more funding that we have, the more children and young people we can help, with a focus on those from deprived areas. We know that outdoor education and employment opportunities are more important now than ever and any support to grow our programmes such as Sea.Change is very gratefully received.

To find out more about the Edmiston Foundation and UKSA, please contact us.


23 September 2022

Written by:

Caroline Munier