COVID-19 – TALL SHIPS  OPERATIONAL STATEMENT

Our priority is, and always has been, safety whilst on board.   In March, the Tall Ships Youth Trust made the difficult but necessary decision to suspend all voyages until we were able to ensure we are fully compliant with the Government’s existing Covid-19 guidance. As a result, Trustees made the decision to cancel all residential voyages until at least 1st October. We are bitterly disappointed to have to do this but we believe the Health and Safety protocols we have put in place will reduce any risk of transmission to its lowest possible level, and we are 100% ready to go as soon as we get the green light from Government. As guidelines are changing all the time, we will review all voyages some 14 days before the start date.

Since March, we have done everything within our powers to start residential sailing experiences again – and have tried to move mountains to get there - but according to the guidelines set out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Education, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and Public Health England, we are not quite there yet.

We are however, now in a position to offer a limited number of day sails, proceeds from which will help raise vital funds for the charity to give life-changing experiences for young people once the Government allows our residential voyages to start again.

Sailing has never been risk-free, so we are used to assessing and managing risk, and for us, Covid-19 is no different. Tall Ships is following – and in some cases exceeding – the Royal Yachting Association and Government guidelines to reduce the risks of infection to the lowest possible level. For both day sails and for when residential voyages start again, we will take all practical measures to ensure that those who are sailing with us arrive in good health, join a boat which has been sanitised  and, to the extent possible, adhere to the contemporary hygiene and social distancing guidelines on board. In addition, we will request that all crew members provide a negative Covid-19 test result and socially distance before the voyage. The protocols we have in place will not detract from the life-changing experience we offer. They will evolve over time as Government guidelines change – for the better or the worse -  but this won’t change our commitment to enabling young people to reach their true potential, in a low risk environment.

We would like to reassure you that you can book with confidence, and the knowledge that we will provide the flexibility and freedom you need at this time. If your voyage is unable to go ahead or you are unable to attend for a valid reason related to Covid-19 (e.g. you have contracted the virus, or you have been directed to self-isolate), we will try to rearrange the voyage for a mutually agreed later date, and if this isn’t possible we will provide a refund in line with our existing terms and conditions.

The pandemic has had a very serious impact on the charity. Whilst we have turned the Trust around over the past two years, and made our second successive operating surplus in 17 years last year, we still do not have the reserves to take us through this unprecedented economic shock. Our income has plummeted, and we have found ways to further cut our cost base, and sought as much relief as possible from government, potential creditors and lenders. At the same time, our fundraising team are working hard to ensure we have the necessary funds to take us through this storm, and to allow us to continue supporting young people when the pandemic has subsided. The demand has increased massively, so we must!

It is imperative that all of us - staff, donors, volunteers and supporters - all pull together and continue to do all we can for the charity, as we punch our way through this very challenging period.

We would like to thank you for your patience, understanding and unwavering support throughout the pandemic.

Please let us know if we can provide any further information.