The families can’t believe some of things they are achieving now, off the water and on it. They feel such pride and a sense of achievement.

Debbie, TEALs day provision

A breath of fresh air for people with learning difficulties

TEALS day provision link up with Testwood Sailability in a genuine two way partnership.

TEALS supports young adults with difficulties and disabilities to embrace new skills and challenges in their lives. Every week Mon and Thurs (until 31st October) they spend the day at Testwood Lakes Sailability (TLS) volunteering and sailing. Some young people launch and recover the boats, some welcome sailors when they arrive. They also help to provide lunch for the volunteers, shopping for the ingredients and getting it ready.

Social skills and confidence

Debbie Taylor, TEALS Founder, explains that “Everyone at Teals has different qualities but the TLS volunteers are so patient and understanding and have really embraced us. Our clients’ social skills have improved during this time because of the help and support given. They are amazing now and the sailing has gone through the roof”.

Testwood Lakes provides a safe environment, out in the open with space to be quiet and peaceful if needed. According to Phil Rawdon, it’s a two-way thing. “The volunteers at Testwood have more of an understanding about autism and learning difficulties, we enjoy having Teals around and have got to know them for the characters they are.”

As well as volunteering the young people from Teals sail and their new skills are amazing. “It took Kyle the whole of the first season to even sit in a boat” says Debbie “But last year he sailed off on his own. When he came in he was smiling like a Cheshire cat. He and others now sail solo – its fantastic to see how far they have come.”

Learning and successes

  • Sailing and volunteering offers the chance to be active, outside, learning skills and contributing to the local community
  • For the young people from Teals, interacting with the sailors is a key part of their social development. Their families can’t believe some of the things they are doing and achieving – on and off the water.
  • Working alongside the young people from Teals has benefitted the volunteers from Testwood as well. 
  • Evidence from across the programme shows sailing can have an impact on connecting with others, improving wellbeing, learning new skills and increasing activity.


“There is such pride and sense of achievement. Testwood are improving so many people’s lives, not just the young people but their families as well.”


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