Formed in 1956, we’re the UK’s oldest and largest youth development sail training charity. We sail all-year round and help young people, aged 12-25 from across the country, to redefine their horizons on our transformational voyages.
We bring a complete cross-section of young people to work and live together in a unique, physically and mentally challenging residential environment. Everyone sets off on a level playing field with no preconceived ideas regarding backgrounds or abilities.
During a voyage they develop a range of skills, which can be transferred to their day-to-day lives to help them overcome any barriers and thrive.
Working together as a team they grow in confidence and self-esteem and see a significant improvement in their communication and leadership skills.
Tasks onboard, include setting and stowing sails, helming, rope work, navigation, meteorology, repairing and maintaining equipment, as well as cooking and cleaning.
To support this, we run a programme of adventurous adult voyages, which provide an exhilarating journey that enables more young people to benefit from our life-changing youth development programme.
*Survey results of 626 voyagers who sailed with us in 2021/22.
A society where all young people have the opportunity to develop their full life potential
To enable young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to fulfil their life potential through experiences at sea and by breaking down the barriers they face in society
We bring together crews of different social backgrounds and nationalities to promote understanding and friendship onboard.
They grow in their ability to create and develop positive relationships with other young people and adults.
Throughout a voyage, our sailing staff and volunteers share their life lessons and experiences and act as positive role models for the young people.
After 20 years in youth work, I thought I’d seen it all, but we built a level of trust and engagement with the young people during the voyage that would have taken six months to achieve on land. Within four months of the voyage eight of the nine young people had gone into jobs, apprenticeships or college. Amazing!
Our residential youth voyages encourage teamwork and participation in an occasionally tough, but safe, environment: through storms, wet weather and living in very close quarters.
Whether they’re navigating during particularly rough conditions or baking for a crew of 10 in a tiny galley kitchen, they learn life skills that can’t be taught on land, where it can be all too easy just to walk away!
We’re one of the largest UK issuers of Royal Yachting Association (RYA) certificates with more than 500 awarded a year.
The majority of our voyages of four nights or more, offer young people the opportunity to achieve their RYA Start Yachting or Competent Crew qualification. These courses are the first steps in the RYA training scheme and often set young people on the future careers.
Up to 20% of the young people who sail with us receive a recommendation to return and train with us as a member of the volunteer crew. This gives them the opportunity to support other young people and work towards nationally recognised maritime qualifications that can often lead to a career at sea.
The experience could not be bettered as an educative means of forming aspirational ambition among young people. I have focused upon Pupil Premium youngsters because Tall Ships Youth Trust represents the most accessible and cost-effective means of delivering truly adventurous training in safety, to these pupils from otherwise impoverished homes.
Were from a disadvantaged background or had a disability.
Believe they now work better in teams
Said they are now able to manage their feelings better
Believe their communication skills have improved
Returned home with increased confidence and self-esteem
returned home with improved leadership skills
*Outcomes based on survey responses from 74% of 626 young people who sailed on a residential voyage with us in 2021/22. In a typical year, we take 1,000 young people to sea.
Challenges they face include:
We work with many youth groups and agencies including YMCA, Scouts, Girlguides, schools, special needs schools, pupil referral units, youth offending teams, young carers, police and The Prince’s Trust.
The benefit of working in this way is that the young people receive additional mentoring outside of our work from their youth workers who accompany them on the voyage.
We accommodate those with special educational needs and disabilities; from varying degrees of learning difficulty, to young people with fine motor coordination and social interaction challenges.
Most importantly, none of the young people that come on our youth voyages need to have ever set foot on a boat before.
Find out more on our Youth Crew pages.