Isle of Wight

Opportunities for young islanders

Whilst we live in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, the truth is that some of our local young people don’t have the easiest of lives. The bleak reality for our Island children is that the attainment gap for disadvantaged school children on the Isle of Wight, at the age of 16, is one of the largest in England at 24 months.

30% of children on the Island live in poverty and this has increased by over 10% in the last two years.

We are passionate about supporting all of these children.  In the past year alone, we have offered educational and development programmes to:

  • over 2,500 people from the Isle of Wight
  • of which 2,117  were under 18
  • with 1,200 participating in funded programmes.

Test the Water

The Test the Water initiative, now in its fifth year, was established with a vision to offer all Year 6 Island children the opportunity to try sailing at UKSA.

Programme benefits 

The aim of this programme is to enable students to develop confidence and life skills at an important time in their school year, when they undertake the transition from primary to secondary education.

As well as covering aspects of water safety (vital for children living on an island), these sessions are designed to develop confidence and key skills. These include communication, resilience, and team-work. Learners are pulled out of their comfort zone in a safe and supportive environment.

We believe the Test the Water programme helps in terms of breaking down barriers on the Islandsailing is often viewed as an elitist sport– we are seeking to change this stigma locally, providing all youngsters with the opportunity to experience the thrill of sailing and watersports, regardless of their background.

How many children have participated?

Thanks to donated funds, up to 1,300 local Year 6 children each year are able to participate in a sailing taster session for free at UKSA.

Since 2014, nearly 7,000 Island children have benefited from the programme and, as of September 2019, every secondary school pupil on the Isle of Wight should have had the opportunity to experience sailing with us.

To find out how you can support Test the Water, click here.

Polly’s Challenge

Polly’s Challenge was established to offer a special opportunity to Isle of Wight children, in Years 6 or 7 and eligible for free school meals. The five-day sailing or watersports courses are run as a follow-on to Test the Water during the school holidays.

Programme benefits 

Through participation in a range of outdoor activities, the programme is designed to give children the chance to have fun, be adventurous and learn new skills. Polly’s Challenge will also broaden their horizons as they make the transition from primary to secondary school.

Polly’s Challenge was set up thanks to the family and friends of Polly Birch. Polly was a much-loved vet, sailor, mum, wife, sister, daughter and friend. Above all Polly loved adventure and wanted to encourage other people to go out and experience the world.

For a small contribution of £20, which children are required to raise through participation in sponsored activities, beneficiaries can participate in a fun-packed week of adventure activities.

How many children have participated?

Since 2018, 75 children have completed Polly’s Challenge thanks to Children in Need, The Hut at Colwell Bay and the family and friends of Polly Birch.

To find out how you can support Polly’s Challenge, click here.

The Summer Give

The summer holidays are a difficult time for children living in poverty.

Over 700,000 children in London live in poverty. For these children, the summer holidays can be a particularly scary time. Few have opportunities to play outdoors, and many children are left hungry and unsupervised without the provisions offered by schools during term-time. This can leave many youngsters vulnerable and lonely with little adult supervision and left to fend for themselves.

With no sign of improvement, we want to do all we can to address this. Giving children a chance to play and a summer to remember.

It is for these reasons that we have teamed up with The Big Give, The Childhood Trust and a range of London youth charities over the last two years to participate in the Summer Give campaign.


The Summer Give is a matched-funded online fundraising campaign which aims to alleviate the impact of child poverty in London during the summer holidays. Up to 40 charities take part in June each year, including UKSA, and every donation made during the campaign week is doubled.

Programme benefits 

Through our campaign, we give London youngsters the chance to participate in residential watersports programmes at UKSA on the Isle of Wight during their school holidays. These trips give children the chance to have fun, be outside, try new activities, push their boundaries, widen their horizons and to develop life skills in a safe environment. Children also receive three good meals a day whilst they are with us.

How many children have participated?

To date, 65 children and young people from across London have benefited from the campaign, including students from George Green’s School in Tower Hamlets.

To find out how you can support our next Summer Give campaign, please contact [email protected]

Find out more?