Community groups get nautical thanks to sail boat co-op

‘Our records chart an increase in confidence and wellbeing among people who have taken part’

Chichester workers’ coop Sail Boat Project is offering activities to members of community groups in Sussex and Hampshire at a reduced rate this summer.

Throughout July, the organisation is using its community sailing fund to make taster trips and two and three-day sails available for £20 per person per day.

The fund was set up to help people from local community groups to access the sea and sailing activities. It is supported by Sussex Community Foundation and the Royal Yachting Association Foundation, as well as from the sale of merchandise and donations.

The Sail Boat Project was established in 2009 to provide a range of activities based around sailing to widen access to the sea – creating training and employment opportunities, and increasing confidence and wellbeing among local communities.

It operates out of Chichester harbour, with regular visits to Shoreham and Newhaven ports and Brighton marina. Each session is led by a commercial-endorsed qualified skipper, assisted by a volunteer first mate.

Community sailing means people can see the Sussex coast from a new perspective and work as a group onboard the co-op’s training vessels, learning teamwork and skills. Participants also learn about the marine environment and how to look after it.

“We believe sailing can have a big impact on people’s mental health,” says co-op member and skipper Dhara Thompson. “Our  records chart an increase in confidence and wellbeing among people who have taken part in previous years. Research shows that just being in a coastal and marine environment can be particularly effective in this regard, known as ‘blue mind’ or ‘blue health’.

“Regular contact in these environments reduces health inequalities by reducing stress, increasing physical activities and creating stronger communities.”