Royal National Children’s Springboard Foundation
We welcomed the Royal National Children’s Springboard Foundation for an all-inclusive residential trip on our Sea.Change Foundation Programme in August
I’m Sandra White and I’m director of programmes at the Royal National Children’s Springboard Foundation – we’re a social mobility charity and we provide bursaries to under-privileged children and children under care nationally. Our bursaries provide an opportunity for them to go to an independent or state boarding school where they’re able to increase their aspirations and fulfil wonderful outcomes in education where they may not have necessarily been able to where they have come from.
Although we’re a medium size charity, we don’t have specific funding for extra activities and a lot of our partners are very small and don’t have their own funding. The Sea.Change Foundation Programme has really given us an opportunity to work in partnership with some of our groups to give these young people an extraordinary opportunity. They have been able to meet with each other and to create a community of spring boarders before they start boarding school, which is exciting for them and for us to watch. They have developed new skills such as how to drive a powerboat, steering a keelboat, being confident in the water and more. A lot of our young people have never been into the sea before, let alone been able to swim.
I came down half-way through the week and met a group of very confident young people. I already met them at the start of the week and some of them were much quieter than they are now. They were very concerned and anxious as they were getting on the coach – that has completely disappeared. They’ve come from three different organisations, and they’ve all merged into one and you cannot tell one from another. They are all just one homogeneous group which is fantastic to see.
The young people have enjoyed keelboating, powerboating, yachting, day sailing and have learnt all these really quite interesting skills such as how to look after each other, if someone struggles into the water, they would work together to overcome their fears.
The instructors have been absolutely marvellous. They have been so supportive, helpful, understanding of the young people and respond to their needs immediately. They’ve been great in pulling them together as a team and helping them to overcome quite fearful situations, and to embrace that fear and to move past it. They’ve just been amazing, and the young people have loved every single one of them. It was really interesting this morning when we were at breakfast, a group of instructors walked past the window and our children were shouting their names and greeting them as they would a friend or family member, and it was really beautiful to see – such a great connection.
The Sea.Change building was fantastic. It has lovely rooms, the temperature is just right, a great shower (I always love a great shower!) it was clean, comfortable, great use of space with built in lockers and underbed storage – plus the complimentary biscuits are always a good move, so thank you for those!!
We’re looking towards coming back as its something we’d like to build into our curricular. We have 140 schools and a 130 young people spread across those schools each year and they don’t know each other or never meet each other until year 12. These young people meeting each other prior to going to boarding school means that they’ve met their community before they arrive which is fantastic. It’s something we would love to continue with as we look at further funding options.
In terms of the careers available to the young people – it’s about raising their awareness – the young people and myself weren’t even aware the size of the maritime industry and how many different jobs there are. I know of one young person who is considering working in the maritime sector and has decided that’s what he wants to do as a career moving forward. I think there will be more than one in the future.