A DOZEN youths have just returned from a life-changing experience.
They made up part of the crew on board the tall ship Faramir, which went on a sail training trip in late March and early this month.
Their chance of a lifetime came courtesy of the Hartlepool organisation Orcel Sea Training which is a voluntary youth group based at the Orcel Centre in Wynyard Road.
Its spokesman Glenys Thompson was also the senior group leader on the trip.
She said: “We have just returned from a sailing voyage with 12 disadvantaged young people from the Owton area of Hartlepool. The trip started and finished at Ipswich and they visited the Rivers Stour, Orwell and Blackwater. “
It was Glenys who recruited the young people she thought could benefit from the experience.
Four were from Manor College of Technology and five had previously participated on the Going Forward Together project which provides young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) with the opportunity to gain qualifications and help to find training or education opportunities.
All had been working with Glenys for some time.
She said: “They are hoping for a career in the fishing industry and were using the sailing experience to learn more about navigation, rules of the road and buoyage.”
The funding for the voyage came from Hartlepool Grant Givers and the Cirdan Trust Discovery Fund. Glenys added: “The young people would like to thank them for giving them this once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Sail training can be a very harsh environment for young people who have to live and work very closely together. They have to complete tasks when they would prefer not to.
“They have to cook and clean for fifteen people in a rota. They all learned new sailing skills as well as learning lots about themselves and what they are capable of if they really tried.”
She said all 12 “excelled in their new situation and said that they had enjoyed the voyage.
“Some said that visiting new places had been their highlight while others said having the chance to swim in the sea was the best part. They all thought they had worked well in a team and their confidence levels had risen. This is very important as they embark on adult life and the world of work.”
Anyone wanting more information about Orcel Sea Training should contact Glenys on (01429) 288123.