East London Young Instructor Programme brings more opportunities to diverse communities

The RYA London and South East Region has created a successful Young Instructor programme in East London, to provide career opportunities for young people from ethnically diverse communities, to address a shortage of dinghy sailing instructors, and to ensure that more people from these communities can recognise they have a place and opportunities to participate and succeed in our sport.
11 Oct 23
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2021/2 - the programme starts

In 2021/22 Asher Robinson, RYA London and South East Sailing Development Officer, with the help of guest coaches, ran 12 Saturday sessions for six young candidates from Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre (DSWC), Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre and Westminster Boating Base. Asher himself has a background similar to the students as you can see in this video. There was no cost to the candidates and all six gained their RYA Dinghy Instructor qualification.

Sustaining the programme

To ensure sustainability the RYA starts these programmes then partners with existing local sailing organisations which can continue them ongoing. We will then move on to start similar programmes in other areas.

2022/3 – partnering with the AHOY Centre

For 2022/3 we partnered with The AHOY Centre, a watersports charity in Deptford, Greenwich, which became the programme manager and fundraiser, having already involved their coaches in the earlier training. The programme was fully funded (around £12000) with match funding from the RYA Together Fund (Sport England) and Active Thames (Port of London Authority). There was no cost to the candidates.

In Autumn 2022 18 students aged 16-19 were given instructor preparation training over 12 weekly sessions at DSWC in Tower Hamlets. The students were from The AHOY Centre, Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre, DSWC, Greg City Academy and Stoke Newington West Reservoir Centre. Coaching was led by Asher with the help of coaches from the AHOY Centre. Part of Asher’s role was to provide outreach into the communities involved, including visiting centres to encourage participation.

The students all had sailing experience to RYA Level 2, which they had gained either through their schools’ sailing programme or a community programme provided by their nominating watersports organisation. This phase of the programme provided instructor training preparation and a pre-entry assessment for the next phase. It included RYA Power Boat Level 2, First Aid, and Safe & Fun qualification. 16 of the students completed this phase.

The next phase was led by the AHOY Centre and again held at DSWC, over Easter 2023, and aimed to take the students to their RYA Dinghy Instructor qualification. On assessment day three were successful and eight agreed achievable action plans with their coaches so they could retake the assessment.

AHOY Centre instructor training

The outcome

By the end of June 2023 11 of the students were qualified and working as Dinghy Instructors at clubs and centres within East London. A second Dinghy Instructor course was being planned to support remaining candidates.

Dan O’Sullivan, Fundraising Manager at the AHOY Centre says: “We’re keen to work in collaboration to have as much impact as possible across London and would love to run this course annually, to the benefit of AHOY and other sites.”

Zak Riat, Chief Instructor from the centre adds: “The AHOY Centre is right on the river, we have good kit and equipment, and we have lots of people wanting to get on the water. However, we’re a small team and often short on having enough freelance and in-house instructors available to deliver sessions. This creates a bottleneck on our ability to deliver our community programmes, so this programme will help change that.”

As well as teaching many newcomers to our sport how to sail, each new instructor will feed back into their own centre, inspiring others from similar backgrounds to follow in their footsteps. The programme will help to address the current instructor shortage affecting clubs and centres. And hopefully the new instructors will go on to long and successful careers coaching and managing in our sport.

Forward going the model will be rolled out in other areas in the London and South East region starting with a cluster of clubs in the Medway and Swale area. It will also be introduced in the Midlands

Meanwhile, here in October 2023, Asher says: “The East London Instructor Program is in full swing. A further 20 16 - 19 year olds are currently being prepped for their pre-assessment (see header photo). We also have newly qualified instructors from last year assisting us. This will all filter down as they look to work at new centres! Nice one.”

Steve says……

RYA Regional Development Officer Steve Mitchell adds: “All the new instructors expressed gratitude for the programme, saying without it they wouldn’t have become instructors. If the youngsters turn up and want to learn we will get them there. All of them are now not just instructing, but volunteering and helping out at their own clubs and centres.”

Could your community/club/centre be involved?

If your community/club/centre would like to become involved please contact Steve