A special thanks - latest from UKSA's CEO

Published 02/04/2020

Sadly 2020 is most definitely not playing out as any of us had hoped or expected. Life often has ways of throwing up the unexpected, however the events of the last 3 weeks have affected all of us in so many ways, none of which we would have thought possible just a few short months ago.

My primary thoughts are with those that have already been so horribly affected by this disease. My brother and sister are both front line medical professionals and it’s hard to conceive what they must be experiencing each day. I am thinking about them and all the other amazing NHS staff that are working so hard to keep us all protected. Please do all you can to shorten the period of this pandemic and help our NHS by staying indoors.

UKSA has always been as much a family as a place of work but I have been truly humbled by the support and sacrifices the UKSA staff team have made during this period. The speed and positivity in which the team and organisation have responded and pulled together has been remarkable. Even though we have suspend operations for now, we continue to have our staff, customers and beneficiaries front and central in our minds and as such, have adapted to working from home, and continue to maintain careful security over our precious site and assets. We are finding new ways to stay connected; hanging out via Zoom (with some wonderful back ground images which appear to change on daily basis) and having a bit of fun over on our new staff Facebook group with useful tips and support for getting us all through this lock down. We have even launched new online courses, so please do take a look at our website and we will be launching further online engagement activities in the coming weeks.

We couldn’t have done any of this without our amazing supporters and donors, to whom we are extremely grateful. They have shown flexibility, commitment and tremendous faith in our ability to navigate our way through these strange waters. Enabling us to re direct funds means we are more able to manage through this period. My special thanks goes to the Whirlwind Charitable Trust, Seafarers UK and the Lister Charitable Trust for their ongoing generosity and belief in our charity.

I would also like to thank our students and schools for their ongoing support. We have been blown away by their understanding and willingness to adapt in having to postpone their training and visits to UKSA. We are in regular communication with our students and customers and we will do everything we can to reschedule their courses and visits for them.

Hard as it is in the eye of the storm to think longer term, the team at UKSA know this has never been more vital. We are now very much looking to the future, at how we can continue with our development plans for the site and facilities and be there for the thousands of children and young people who will need us even more once this situation passes. I said last week, our adventure and learning programmes will be so important due to the isolation young people will have faced. They will help to rebuild self-belief and confidence; young peoples’ mental health will be challenged more than it has ever been before through these difficult times. We will be ready when the opportunity comes to reopen and to broaden the horizons of all our beneficiaries through our life enhancing water-based adventures, education and training for careers at sea.

We know there will be many more challenges to face in the coming weeks and months and I’m grateful for the UKSA family we have standing by us and the support they have shown. It’s in these hard times that it really strikes me what a truly special charity UKSA is and how inspiring it is to be part of it even in the most challenging of circumstances.

Thank you all and please to take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Ben Willows – UKSA Chief Executive Officer