We are a watersports Charity located in one of London’s most deprived communities. Our primary objective is to give opportunities for disadvantaged and at-risk young people whilst also providing opportunities for disabled participants to engage in activities and courses on an equal level.
We bring together people from many walks of life to work together as a community helping others and teaching transferable and employable skills is at the heart of everything we do. Rowing and sailing are the educational tools we use to get results – the influence and passion of these activities bring about solid, positive changes in our participants and the local community – creating good citizenship and role models.
We offer services mostly, but not exclusively, to those living within the London Boroughs of Greenwich, Bromley, Hackney, Lewisham and Southwark. Particular issues that these areas face include high levels of multi-generational unemployment, a disadvantage in income, health and crime, low levels of educational attainment and a poor natural environment. In addition, inadequate low-quality and overcrowded housing can all too often lead to a culture of low aspirations and success. Problems at home are the main barrier for most of our young participants’ success.
The area we operate in is ranked in the 10% most deprived areas in the country. Lewisham has one of the highest rates of child poverty in London where 55% of children live in low-income families of which a mere 21% of those low-income families are in active employment.
Children and young people from deprived inner-city areas need access to:
• skills-based training which leads to employment
• outdoor and physical activities
• opportunities which challenge their status-quo, giving them the chance to succeed
• volunteering opportunities
• activities which promote positive community engagement and integration
The AHOY Centre is a recognised Royal Yachting Association (RYA) teaching establishment, a BR (British Rowing) Clubmark accredited Centre, NCFE Training Centre and are also licensed by AALA (Adventure, Activities Licensing Authority). We provide opportunities and access to sailing and rowing for all – using the passion of these sports to break down the barriers and divides which exist within today’s society, ensuring that everyone, no matter their background, can take part. Our participants gain valuable, transferable life-skills which they are able to use in their everyday lives in tandem with RYA nationally recognised qualifications. Since 2004 we have worked with over 11,000 children and adults.
Through our ‘Shipmates’ project, we have been able to provide a sustainable and consistent service to an ever-growing number of beneficiaries. In 2016, over 400 young people accessed our services, of which 45 participated in the ‘Shipmates Project’. All our Shipmates went on to achieve nationally recognised qualifications.
Sailing and rowing are two of very few sports that people of all abilities can participate in on equal terms. With growing concerns over childhood inactivity and obesity, there is no time like the present to encourage young people to participate in a physical activity, raise aspirations and become part of a programme which succeeds in equipping participants with important life-long professional and interpersonal skills. From the moment a new participant arrives at our gates, their background, disability, age and any criminal record cease to have relevance. All are given a clean slate and equal opportunities to excel. This ethos has proven to have a far-reaching and encouraging effect on the way young people process their thoughts and react to future challenging situations.
The Shipmate project is for young people aged 8 to 18 years. The scheme develops skills from basic teamwork on water and land through to team leadership. This results in young people gaining RYA and BR national qualifications. Some of our Shipmates have been with us for over six years and have achieved a range of high-level nationally recognised qualifications whilst also enhancing their practical and life skills.
Further to the achievement of their qualifications, Shipmates become volunteers at The AHOY Centre – helping to train new recruits and taking pride in the maintenance of the site and boats. They become involved in many aspects of running the charity and it is through their volunteering that the AHOY Centre is able to continue serving this disadvantaged community whilst increasing their citizenship and social responsibility awareness.
The success of this project is in large down to the consistency our Shipmates provide as they know, better than anybody else, the issues faced within their community.