A course for young unemployed people has changed the lives of four young people from Southampton.

Southampton residents Katie O’Connor 18, Shafi Hamidy and Jordan White both 21, and 25 year old Stephen Rees have successfully completed the ground-breaking Unlocking Potential programme.

The course gives the students the chance to get their lives back on track following referral by The Saints Foundation and The Society of St James through funding from Hampshire Police.

For Hampshire Constabulary their involvement has been to help young people overcome life’s barriers to prevent re-offending. The course allows participants to use on-the-water activities as the catalyst for positive change, giving them the chance to get their lives back on track.

Chief Inspector Debbie Masson of Hampshire Constabulary, said: “This course has given four young people the opportunity to learn new skills, and adapt and work as part of a team. It has given them the confidence in themselves and their abilities and also set them on the path to success and achievement in their lives.”

The young people took part in the four-week residential course after referral from Saints 4 Sport. The highly successful course combines on-water experiences with work experience in the local community. Importantly, participants find the healthy routine and positive environment of UKSA raises their aspirations, motivates them and gives them qualifications to enable them to seek work. They are all offered one-to-one mentoring and support, and careers guidance as part of the programme

Simon Davies, Director of Youth Development explained; “Over the four weeks, the young people have worked on a variety of activities to build their confidence and self-esteem, as we see them graduating today, they are walking taller.”

Katie O’Connor explained; “I joined because I wanted to try something new and experience a different lifestyle. I have really enjoyed my time at UKSA. It felt really good to help the instructors and the children in their day to day activities I hope to come back in the future and do an instructor course.”

As a youth charity, UKSA don’t just provide qualifications but life-changing and life-enhancing opportunities.

The Unlocking Potential team with their Instructor and programme funders.

The Unlocking Potential team with their Instructor and programme funders.