Sea Squad helps Conwy young sailors thrive

September 03, 2019

A local watersports centre has just celebrated the achievements of young people from the Conwy area after receiving ‘Your Community Your Choice’ funding from PACT, the Police and Community Trust. 

Thanks to a special fund set up by the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, the Sea Squad at Colwyn Bay Watersport provided tuition in sailing and watersports to young people from communities where anti-social behaviour had been an issue. 

As a preventative programme that aimed to stop boredom during the lighter spring nights becoming something worse, the local Neighbourhood Police Teams worked with the centre to identify potential areas of concern and enrol young people that could benefit.

The programme began with a taster weekend which saw 60 youngsters work with instructors to try out a variety of activities including sailing, windsurfing and kayaking.

There were team building exercises on the beach at Porth Eirias with the objective to recruit members for the weekly squad and begin a programme promoting confidence, communication, resilience and good citizenship. 

Following the taster, 20 young people joined the weekly Sea Squad sessions and with the help from of Arriva Buses Wales and the efforts of PSCO Alex Aldous, a 10 week programme began providing a variety of fun and stimulating activities.  

Through the many weeks young people worked alongside instructors and many of the officers from their community with the objective to achieve an RYA Level 1 certificate in sailing.

Despite a small number of the original group unable to complete the programme, 17 accrued enough sailing hours and skill to receive their certificates at a recent presentation night attended by Mr. Jones.

Former Police Officer Gary Fernandez who was lead instructor on the Sea Squad project said how impressed he was at the efforts of the young people and how he had recognised a positive change in confidence.

“They are amazing young people who should be very proud of themselves. I know many weren’t sure how to respond to working with adults and officers but as they have become more communicative and confident, their ability to tackle quite complex situations and challenges have become apparent.

"If we have encouraged our squad to believe in themselves and become better citizens then we have achieved a lot.”

As a result of the Sea Squad programme a number of older children have shown an interest in becoming volunteers and helping other young people to benefit from a similar experience. 

Taffy Osborne, Manager said that a number of parents and children had enquired about coming back next spring and summer and helping out at the centre.

“As a community sailing centre and a not-for-profit organisation, we are so dependent on the work of volunteers to help us deliver our programmes and we are delighted that some of our Sea Squad has shown an interest in coming back to us next season.

"Not only does it help us do more work for the community, but young people taking part will also gain the experience helping to help them get jobs and the experience to move forward in education.” 

The programme received much praise from parents. Nia Gwynfor whose son took part said, “Elis has gained great skills both on the sea and out on the water as he’s learnt how to problem solve, communicate with new people  of all ages and gained valuable sailing skills of course.” 

Fiona Williams whose daughter Elin collected her certificate thanked everyone involved in the project. “Many thanks to all the sponsors for this great opportunity that my daughter has thoroughly enjoyed".

Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said, "I am pleased that the Sea Squad has been so successful and provided excellent experiences to the young people involved and I am grateful to the volunteers and the PCSO's for their support. I very much hope the project continue to provide positive life experiences.”