Updated: Jan 6
Working privately as a therapist and psychological coach brought me into contact with several people who worked with different marginalised groups, people with mental health issues, etc and I realised that although there were different areas of support, nobody was using the natural backdrop and well tested environment of the sea in Liverpool to build upon the character of these people and help them and their communities to grow in this way. Many major and not so major ports in the UK have charity sailing boats set up to run sailing experiences and sailing tuition, so I found it strange that Liverpool, being such a major and historic port in the UK lacked any of this.
So myself and a few close friends decided to do something about it. We started off working with the famous Glaciere (pictured left) but sadly her days were numbered and she was no longer up to the job. So we decided to go for smaller ships that cost less to maintain and keep the focus on actually getting out to sea. We have now managed to do this with 'Shadow Wind', our Gibsea 105.
From my own maritime past I was aware of what a life changing impact going to sea can be so I was surprised that a port such as Liverpool currently had nothing like this to offer. Around the same time some under-privileged folk I was in touch with started to come to the boat to help out, chat, and just be a part of something. I quickly came to realise just how much this meant to them. Trialling the boat maintenance days and boat trips with a couple more individuals was hugely successful in terms of building confidence and motivation in them, and all of the feedback we received showed us that we needed to develop this community by the sea for others. People that once just wandered through their days with little to look forward to have now becoming active members of our group and we are developing further. The rest as they say, is history.
Many marginalised people in Liverpool, along with those who may have a very limited income rarely get the chance to experience what is available outside of their current status quo. Liverpool has a great heritage and yet it is maritime and marine presence is very much underused which much of the docks still derelict and most of the city's population unaware of how important the Mersey is and the life it provides. What the Mersey does offer is a chance to experience the river and the sea and experience a very different view on life - one that allows people to look at their home and their environment in a different way and take something new from it.
A lot of the people we work with have a very limited means of being able to experience the core of what has built Liverpool's natural environment, people, and commerce over the centuries. And sailing and the sea are such a big part of it. In our experience when people are brought close to nature's peace and healing presence, when they are taught to increase their self reliance and yet at the same time develop a strong sense of community, then they grow in confidence and self respect. Often, they are so focused primarily on their immediate problems of dealing with the issues that have placed them in some or other category of being marginalised that they do not have the means to see beyond this. When they are given the space and the opportunity to do something quite different, they often thrive and respond very positively to it.
"There is no Good or Bad, only circumstance.” Honor de Balzac