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Tower Bridge raises to celebrate Notts teens sailing the UK for equal opportunities

The first-time sailors have travelled more than 300km from Hull as the YMCA expedition reaches the home stretch 

London, 11 October: The Tower Bridge will ceremoniously raise today to welcome a group of 12 students who have sailed more than 300km from Hull to improve social deprivation and youth development in the heart of the country - despite never having sailed before. 

The teens (aged 16-19) from Newark College, have been sailing on the seventh leg of the national sail. The wider charity scheme has seen 80 residents of a Nottinghamshire community sail from Portsmouth to London to raise money for the district of Newark and Sherwood. The area is currently ranked 323rd out of 324 in the UK by the Social Mobility Commission, which compares the chances of children from disadvantaged backgrounds doing well at school and employment across each local authority district area in England. 

This is in direct comparison to London local authorities - 30 out of the 32 London Boroughs are in the top  20% of areas for social mobility.

YMCA Newark and Sherwood has joined forces with Tall Ships Youth Trust to circumnavigate the UK to raise funds for the YMCA Newark and Sherwood Community and Activity Village which aims to bring better opportunities to young people and families in the area.  With the help of the experienced sailors from Tall Ships, the students have had the full experience - eating, sleeping and learning to sail on a 72-foot Challenger Yacht.

All of those involved in the expedition will be there to watch the boat pass through the Tower Bridge in what is a momentous occasion for the charity. Members of the YMCA board, YMCA England and Wales, Newark and Sherwood District Council, staff from Newark College, sponsor BNA Charity, Tall Ships and the crew of students will all be in attendance. All YMCA charities in London have also been invited. 

The community hub will be unlike anywhere else in the UK, a space brimming with transformational opportunities for families at every point in their lives. 

Craig Berens, Chief Operating Officer of YMCA Newark and Sherwood, said:

“This moment is huge for our landmark sailing relay and everything that it represents. The cornerstone of our work is to create equal lifelong opportunities for all, no matter what their background is. Early life experiences influence your core values into adulthood and opportunities for young people to thrive often rely on an unfair postcode lottery which negatively affects social wellness, healthy living and youth development in deprived communities.“

Once the 32ft Challenger Yacht arrives in St Katherines Dock, London, it has one further stop - Portsmouth - where the sail will finish on 18th October. Previous sailors have included high school students (aged 13-14), local council officers, community volunteers, sports leaders and YMCA residents who are now living at the charity’s supported accommodation following a period of homelessness. 

The Community Village will include an Olympic climbing wall, athletics provisions, cycling tracks, digital media suites, further education classes, adult education, and more to bring healthy living, youth development and social responsibility to the town. 

Berens continued: “We know that poor developmental opportunities can significantly contribute to not just wealth, but to life expectancy. This community project is about inclusion and opportunity for those of all ages - five or 50 - to belong, contribute and thrive.”

YMCA is a national charity which supports youth development, healthy living and social responsibility to build stronger communities through a plethora of services. From accommodation for homeless young people to a range of skills-based training and apprenticeship schemes, the charity is based on Christian values of caring, honesty and respect.


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