Group shot - Princes Trust, Ocean Youth Trust Scotland staff, volunteers and young people aboard Spirit, 9th April 2014

Group shot – Princes Trust, Ocean Youth Trust Scotland staff, volunteers and young people aboard Spirit, 9th April 2014

Scotland’s Minister for Children and Young People boarded The Prince’s Trust’s unique schooner, Spirit, and Ocean Youth Trust Scotland’s volunteer training yacht, Alba Volunteer, to find out how the two charities are using sail training to change young lives.

Aileen Campbell MSP joined young people who have completed voyages on Spirit, through sail training programmes run by The Prince’s Trust and Ocean Youth Trust Scotland, as well as young people supported by other Prince’s Trust programmes, to hear their experiences of overcoming challenges and moving into jobs and education.

Her visit came as Spirit embarks on a busy sailing season, when the schooner will make around 30 voyages this year, giving more than 250 young people a unique experience and the chance to learn new skills and grow in confidence.

A two year Strategic Funding Partnership with the Scottish Government is contributing £250K in funding for Spirit and other Prince’s Trust programmes to support young people into learning and employment.

Spirit is a replica of a MerseyBay pilot schooner, built by unemployed workers in the 1980’s. The Minister boarded her at the Yorkhill Pontoon on the Clyde for a tour followed by a roundtable discussion with young people supported by The Prince’s Trust and Ocean Youth Trust Scotland.

Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People, said: “The time young people spend on Spirit really does have the power to change their lives and I really appreciate the invitation to share their experiences. Last week I joined other young people to launch a national strategy for youth work and heard about the difference that youth work has made to them. The strategy builds on the work done by The Prince’s Trust and others to create real opportunities for young people.

“For many, youth work is about having a fun time with friends, but for a significant number of our most vulnerable young people it is the only space where they feel free to build lasting and supportive relationships, learn skills and develop confidence that they will rely on as they move from education to work or start families of their own. I am sure that for all of Spirit’s crew, past and present, sailing on such an impressive ship is an experience that will inspire them for years to come.”

Allan Watt, Director of The Prince’s Trust Scotland, added: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister onto Spirit at the start of the sailing season, to hear young people’s experiences of our sail training voyages and other programmes.

“A voyage on Spirit isn’t just a unique experience, it’s also a chance for them to develop new skills, grow in confidence, reflect on their hopes and aspirations for the future and plan the steps they’ll take to get there.”

“The lasting impact that a voyage on Spirit can have is reflected by the current skipper and trainee mate, who both went through the programme themselves and have returned to share their passion and experience with young people.”

Nick Fleming, Chief Executive of Ocean Youth Trust Scotland said, “We welcome the support of the Scottish Government to help develop the partnership between The Prince’s Trust and Ocean Youth Trust Scotland. By working together we have the capacity to help many more young people across Scotland realise their true potential. We see a dramatic change in young people after just a few days aboard; The Prince’s Trust provides ongoing support to help these young people make the most of their sail training experience and move into positive destinations.”

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