Supported by Merseyside Police using funds emerging from the Proceeds of Crime Act recovery programme, up to 10 young people from high schools within Merseyside have been selected to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity sailing as part of the crew on board a 72ft Challenger yacht.

The students will depart from Portsmouth on Sunday 26 May. They plan to sail along the coast and down to the Channel Islands before completing the round trip back to Portsmouth 6 days later. They will take part in all aspects of sailing during the 5 night voyage, from cooking and cleaning to setting the sails and taking the helm of an ocean-going racing yacht.

The young people have been selected based on their background and home life. Many of them are carers for their parents or siblings or are in other ways deserving due to their commitment to the community or continuing to strive in school despite challenging home lives.

The Tall Ships Youth Trust equips young people with the skills they need to turn their lives around; giving them confidence and instilling a sense of pride in themselves and their peers, steering them away from a potential life of crime.

The young people will be living on board and will be assigned to watches (teams) working in shifts to complete duties throughout the day and night. This is a unique physically and mentally challenging experience at sea which will develop the youngsters’ long-term life skills including team working, confidence building and problem solving skills.

The Trust has a well-established reputation for providing invaluable preparation for the challenges we all have in our lives, at work and as part of society. This is achieved by breaking the pattern of conventional behaviour and encouraging team participation and interaction under challenging and sometimes arduous conditions. Learning how to rely on and be relied upon by your colleagues, leadership skills, and decision-making skills are all fostered by the Tall Ships experience.

Assistant Chief Constable Claire Richards said: “This is a really wonderful opportunity for young people who have dedicated themselves to helping others, or who have applied themselves well in spite of challenging circumstances at home or at school.

“It is especially gratifying to know that we have been able to make this possible by taking cash and property from the hands of criminals who cause nothing but fear and harm in our communities.

“These young people are far more deserving of that cash, and I know they will put their all into this experience and get a lot out of it.

“The whole trip will open these youngsters’ eyes to the range of possibilities life can provide them, and I am sure will give them wonderful memories to last a lifetime.”

Richard Leaman, Chief Executive Officer, Tall Ships Youth Trust said: “Working with Merseyside Police last year was an extraordinary experience and we are really looking forward to sailing with another group this May. We play a crucial role in giving these youngsters the right support to believe in themselves, to get jobs and lead fulfilled lives.”