Sailing to DofE Awards with Tackling Inequalities Funding


Accessing Duke of Edinburgh’s Award through the Tackling Inequalities Fund 

Young people at Cobnor Activities Centre Trust (CACT) are now able to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze Award due to a grant from the Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund.

CACT is one of 18 OnBoard and Sailability organisations from across the country which have been awarded grants of up to £10,000 to help tackle inequalities from the National Lottery Funding.

This second round of £150,000 has been awarded to the RYA to help fund a wide range of projects to help make sailing more accessible for people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to get on the water.

Based in Chichester Harbour, West Sussex, CACT offers OnBoard and Sailability sessions, with many of its activities already accessed by families and children who are in receipt of a means tested benefit, including those in lower socio-economic groups, ethnically diverse communities, disabled people and people with long term health conditions, employment and support allowance, or housing benefit.

Earlier this year the independent charity gained recognition for the trust to provide Duke of Edinburgh’s Award accredited activities to include the provision of both Bronze and Silver expeditions through sailing and Gold residential opportunities focused through sailing activities.

As Gary Palmer, Head of Centre at CACT explains: “In addition to our strong relationships with several local schools within deprived areas, we also work with voluntary and local authority children services from across Hampshire and West Sussex. Through our experience of operating positive sailing experiences for these youngsters and families we believe we can help enhance each participant’s personal development as well as their outlook on life.

“Our previous experience of working with young people from disadvantaged and people with disabilities means that we are well placed to provide even more positive sailing experiences to young people through the DofE Award” 

Addressing inequalities through DofE
During 2020 and 2021 the DofE reports that only 22% of new DofE participants, almost 40,000 young people, were from a disadvantaged background, including young people facing financial hardship, those within the criminal justice system and those with special educational needs or disabilities.

CACT agrees with the DofE, that for young people in particular, taking part in the Awards can be life-changing, provides invaluable development and a recognised achievement that levels the playing field, as Gary adds: “A key focus for CACT is to enable children from all social and economic backgrounds to access outdoor activities and benefit from the accreditations and activities to include DofE.”

Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer says: “OnBoard research has shown that children and young people report feeling more supported by their peers, relaxed, and confident about themselves when engaging with new activities and challenges. Teachers, parents and instructors also agree that learning to sail has benefits which are far more than just learning a new skill – for example self-esteem, supportiveness, and camaraderie.”

Hannah adds: “From interviews undertaken with instructors, teachers and parents and from the focus groups undertaken with children and young people, OnBoard is seen as playing an important role in tackling social disadvantage.”

Funding focus
CACT applied to the Tackling Inequality Fund to help address the balance of young people from lower socio-economic groups and ethnically diverse communities taking part in the DofE. It hopes that with this funding it can now support a further 24 young people to access and complete the Award through sailing and RYA Awards.

In addition, the charity is also seeking further funding to offer 13-month apprenticeship for two apprenticeships at the centre.

CACT was also awarded a grant from the first Tackling Inequality Fund round, to aid and support people who both suffer and care for someone affected by mental health. This year CACT has been working with Stonepillow, a charity which supports and empowers homeless and vulnerable people, to provide activities which develop skills and promote self-worth and belief for clients on its recovery pathway programs. Find out more in this video here.

How sailing contributes to the DofE
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award (DofE) is a voluntary, non-competitive programme of activities for anyone aged 14 to 24. The DofE gives young people the chance to experience new activities or develop existing skills. There are three progressive programme levels, which when completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award.

Through a DofE programme young people have fun, make friends, improve their self-esteem and build confidence. Sailing is ideally placed for young people to gain essential skills and qualities for work and life such as resilience, problem-solving, team-working and communication – which are also key OnBoard attributes which have been identified in the RYA OnBoard Impact report.

“Each sailing expedition and experience will reinforce a positive and focused attitude towards key personal and social skills to further support the individual in later life.” Gary said.

Hannah concludes: “Many of the activities young people are already taking part in at their local OnBoard venue can also count towards their award. For example many of our young instructors which help run sessions can allocate their time volunteering towards the Award.”

Impact of Covid-19
The DofE annual statistics for 2020/21 reports that in a year full of unprecedented challenges, young people stepped up and played an integral role in supporting communities across the UK to respond to the coronavirus pandemic – with a remarkable 330,000 young people continuing with their DofE activities.

Despite this, Gary believes there is still a lot more than can be done: “There are many disadvantaged and low-income families background whose outlook on life opportunities following the COVID-19 pandemic have been seriously affected.

“Following the extended period of furlough and redundancy negatively impacting families, along with the social isolation for young people spending time with each other, we feel our project is perfectly placed to change lives through the power of outdoor activity.”

In addition to the organisations that CACT is already working with, it is also investigating how it can support more young people with both learning and physical disabilities to access the outdoors to start their personal journey through the DofE awards. "Already from starting the programme we have connected with many other user groups to include West Sussex SEND, Restorative Justice teams and our local social prescribing teams." Gary adds. 

Could your venue offer DofE?
The RYA was recognised as a National Operating Authority for The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in 2012. This means recognised RYA Training Centres can apply to become licensed to offer the DofE by meeting specific criteria laid out by the RYA and DofE. More than 25 RYA recognised training centres are now also recognised as DofE centres.

You can find more information about how you could get involved here - The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and to find out more about DofE recognition contact Mollie Knowlden in the RYA Training Team

Sunrise Cobnor Activities Centre - Becki Dicker