THE UK’s largest youth development sail training charity has launched an appeal to raise at least £1.5m to buy an additional large sailing yacht to help hundreds more young people a year with a ‘life-changing’ voyage.

Tall Ships Youth Trust (TSYT) currently has a fleet of four 72ft Challenger yachts and a 55ft ketch, which enables the charity to take 1,000 young people to sea every year.

Our new LifeChanger Appeal aims to raise the money to buy and refit an additional 70-80ft sized vessel (10-12 berth), increasing our sea-going capacity by approximately 250 young people a year. Funds will also cover three-years’ running costs, including bursaries for 750 young people to go on a voyage.

We work with young people aged 12-25, with a particular focus on supporting those from disadvantaged backgrounds — 75 per cent of our beneficiaries come from this cohort.

Some of the challenges these young people face include, dealing with physical, mental or learning disabilities. Some are young carers and some have been excluded from mainstream education and are on the cusp of, or already involved in, crime. As well as young people who have been physically or mentally abused. 

Young people have been adversely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic with unprecedented levels of disruption to their education, feelings of isolation and negative impacts on their mental and physical wellbeing.

Vivienne Cox, Chair of TSYT’s LifeChanger Appeal Committee, said: “It’s widely accepted that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds lack the same opportunities and life chances as their more affluent peers. This has been further exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Mental health referrals for our young people have doubled since the start of the pandemic and recent reports of nearly 200,000 being referred in just three months, only shows the problem is getting worse.

“We know that a week-long voyage on one of our iconic vessels, with support from our experienced youth development sailing team, gives these young people the opportunity to change their lives.”

In 2018, TSYT launched the ‘New Flagship Appeal’ to raise £5 million to purchase a new schooner-sized vessel alongside a bursary fund for young people and for the charity to have no financial liabilities. The appeal was launched in a pre-Covid-19 world and none of us could have predicted what 2020 would bring.

The pandemic has had a significant financial impact on many of our supporters (individuals and organisations alike), which has made fundraising for large capital projects like this, in the current climate, extremely challenging. It’s also had a negative impact on the lives of our beneficiaries, and we recognise that we have a moral obligation to urgently meet the increased demand for our voyages.

Therefore, our trustees have agreed to repurpose the appeal to our LifeChanger Appeal and enable us to increase our sea-going capacity sooner.

TSYT has taken more than 500 young people on a voyage since restrictions were first eased in early June. During this time, we’ve seen the demand for our services rise exponentially as a direct result of the pandemic.

Mrs Cox, added: “However, with limited capacity, we’re currently unable to meet this demand, meaning hundreds of young people are going unsupported.

“This is why we’re launching this appeal and why we have to act urgently to commission this additional vessel as quickly as possible.”

At the launch of the LifeChanger Appeal, hosted by shipping company, Clarksons, at its offices in St Katharine Docks, TSYT youth ambassador, Katie Craven, shared her story.

She said: “My first voyage opened my eyes and showed me I can do better. It completely changed my life. Every day onboard is different and you’re always learning something new. You’re with different people from different backgrounds, but no-one judges you.

“You have to work together, regardless. It’s really helped me to manage my emotions and get on better with people.”

TSYT is appealing to businesses and philanthropists to get in touch if they’d like to find out more and help. Interested parties should contact James Hudson, Director of Fundraising and Marketing: [email protected]

Read Katie’s and other young people’s stories here.

Click on the image below to watch our short LifeChanger Appeal film.