Our initial project was to cover the period from January to July 2020, although there was never any real plan for an end date! Like many organisations we were greatly restricted in what we could do, so that project date was extended to April 2021. However, we never stopped. We carried on seeing people face to face as they needed it, and we never refused to meet anybody during this time as the directors all felt that mental health issues quickly became of even greater importance.
Although we like to work with all marginalised groups and individuals, we received funding to help specifically with the increasing issue of suicide rates with middle aged men.
We needed to help them get on a journey to build confidence, self-respect, mindfulness, community spirit, and hope. We aimed to do this by getting them involved in working on our boat, and teaching a very basic understanding of boats and sailing. Through this medium we hoped to create a community where people of all different cultures and backgrounds could come together for mutual support.
What we ended up doing due to restrictions was:
Running our evening navigation and sailing theory classes however we could to keep supplying face to face support. This gave us something regular to keep going.
Getting the boat out on a trip whenever we could which although was rare due to the new laws, gave people an example of something to aspire to and look forward to.
Bringing people down to the marina and the boat to see what we do, chat over coffee, talk about their issues, and offer some coaching and support.
Build our community and become known and established in Liverpool Marina, the surrounding areas, and Liverpool and beyond.
Prepare for now – and be ready to be fully operational again as soon as we are permitted, which we have done and have sailing trips, classes, and further community support days already planned and places booked.
The project has been a great learning curve for everybody, including but not limited to:
Once we started we found that there were also people in our general paying public who fitted into this group, so we realised there were plenty of people to find organically beyond the initial target groups.
We worried over providing grand adventures and voyages to get our beneficiaries interested, but actually all of them were happy and excited at simply coming to the marina, getting onto the boat, learning about sailing and the sea, and just ‘having a reason to get up in the morning’ as they often described it.
When we started although we had a loose plan of what training we would offer, it was very ad hoc and unaccredited. Since we have evolved we have now seen the real benefit in working with the Royal Yachting Association and we now have an internationally recognised certificate (RYA Essential Navigation and Seamanship Certificate) which we offer. This is now in place and only 2 weeks ago we were able to certify our first people from this project. There will be many more.
We came to learn how much crossover there is between marginalised groups – for instance an ex-offender may also be ex-forces, ex-addict, suffering mental health issues and suicidal feelings, along with further more issues. This has led to a better understanding of how the spectrum is one unbroken line that we are all on, and although we may receive support in one or more specific areas, there is a need to stay inclusive of all and be aware of not labelling people.
Returning to our first point, we have been overwhelmed with the ability of our beneficiaries to deliver great ideas, first class work, support and tolerance, and above all community and thus we are now working to build them into the organisation at a leadership level.
It goes without saying that we are still scratching the surface of the underlying issues in our society, and as “a civilization is judged not by who it excludes, but by how it treats the excluded”, then we have a long way to go, but we have learnt that we can make a difference.
Finally, Shadow Wind CIC’s directors, staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries would like to thank all of the people that have made this project possible and moved our community forward to where we are now.