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(Story from Business Link East Midlands)

A relay-style sailing adventure around the UK coastline will begin on 30 August as part of an initiative to improve youth development, social mobility and life expectancy in Newark and Sherwood.

YMCA Newark & Sherwood has joined forces with Tall Ships Youth Trust to host 80 community members in a bid to raise money for its £13m Community and Activity Village to be based in Newark, Nottinghamshire.

The voyage will comprise eight legs with a different crew for each, made up of 80 local community members of Newark and Sherwood. They will include school children, scouts, CEOs as well as Not Employed, in Education or Training (NEET) individuals. They will get the full experience – eating and sleeping onboard and learning to sail – for between four and eight days straight. Individuals on the ship will also be vlogging the voyage as it happens and celebrating with other local YMCAs as each new crew navigates the waves in different cities.

Richard Leaman-Grey, CEO of Tall Ships Youth Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with YMCA on this exciting project. The trip offers people from all backgrounds who represent the Newark and Sherwood community the opportunity to set sail on the adventure of a lifetime, while raising money to make a difference for their community. We play a crucial role in giving these youngsters the right support to believe in themselves, to get jobs, and lead fulfilled lives.”

The YMCA Community Village will be the first of its kind, and is being built with the goal to bring opportunities to people living within the isolated rural area, which is currently ranked 323rd out of 324 by the Social Mobility Commission.

The Village will exist as a not-for-profit space designed to support community cohesion, health and happiness in the district, which has been cited as having a life expectancy of 10 years lower than the national average.

The Community and Activity Village is set to open in 2021. It is hoped that the facilities will be used by a fifth of the population of the district in the next ten years. It will also provide 80 jobs within three years of opening.

Situated on Bowbridge Road, Newark, the initiative is to deliver a range of affordable sports, health and childcare programmes for people who live in Newark and Sherwood. It has the capacity to host sporting events and competitions, and incorporate an alternative education programme using onsite facilities to promote life and independence skills. These opportunities and activities will benefit individuals in the area who are currently not engaged or at the fringes of becoming NEET. The Village will also offer scholarships for families that need a helping hand.

Craig Berens, Chief Operating Officer of YMCA Newark and Sherwood, said: “The cornerstone of our work is to create equal lifelong opportunities for all, no matter what their background is. Early life experiences influence your core values into adulthood, and opportunities for young people to thrive often rely on an unfair postcode lottery which negatively affects social wellness, healthy living and youth development in deprived communities.

“We know that poor developmental opportunities can significantly contribute to not just wealth, but also life expectancy. This project is about inclusion and opportunity for those of all ages – five or 50 – to belong, contribute and thrive.”

The tour also celebrates Newark and Sherwood being home to the first new YMCA branch to be launched in Britain for 40 years.

The first group of budding sailors will set sail on 30th August from Portsmouth. Other legs will cover Plymouth, Cardiff, Liverpool, Greenock, Inverness and Hull and see Tower Bridge ceremoniously raise to welcome young people in London. The voyage has been made possible by BNA Charitable Incorporated Organisation, which has funded the trip around the UK so that all fundraising goes towards the YMCA Community and Activity Village.

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