A sobering statistic from the National Education Union reveals that of the total of 25,961 children living on the Isle of Wight, 34% of these young people live in poverty.
For the locally-based maritime youth charity, UKSA, charity begins at home, which is why, in addition to offering a range of bursaries for its professional yacht and superyacht training and watersports careers courses, it also provides a range of funded developmental programmes, giving young people life-changing opportunities, both on and off the water.
Despite growing up no more than 20 minutes away from the sea, a significant number of children on the Island have never actually been in the sea.
To counter this, each year UKSA funds half a day on the water for all Isle of Wight Year 6 children, supporting nearly 1,500 beneficiaries throughout the year.
The Test the Water programme was designed to provide children on the Island with the opportunity to gain water confidence while introducing them to sailing, without the barrier of cost and regardless of background.
Polly’s Fund was set up at UKSA in memory of Polly Birch, to offer a special opportunity to Isle of Wight children for a five-day sailing or watersports course during their summer holidays, enabling them to have fun, be adventurous and learn new skills through participation in outdoor activities.
The Sea.Change Foundation Programme was launched at UKSA to help with some of the challenges facing teenagers, and gives them the opportunity to experience a wide range of water-based activities alongside classroom- based sessions, where they learn more about career options in the maritime sector.
This funded, inspirational five-day residential programme takes place in the school holidays, a time of year that can be much harder for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
To help UKSA increase the confidence and self-belief of Island children, check out the website: uksa.charity/iow