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Leading youth work charity, Ocean Youth Trust Scotland, is to run a series of all-female Employability voyages at sea, thanks to vital funding aimed at getting vulnerable girls into work.

The Inverclyde-based charity provides residential youth work on the waves for young people aged between 12 and 25. However, this will be the first time the charity has run voyages tailored specifically to all-female groups.

The funding has been awarded by the Tampon Tax Community Fund, which supports women and girls of all ages across the UK to build their skills, confidence and self-esteem.

OYT Scotland will run two five-day Employability Skills focused voyages for two groups of disadvantaged young women and girls from across Scotland. The aim of the project is to empower between 20 - 24 young females, developing their self-confidence, leadership skills and equipping them with qualifications to help them realise their true potential and secure future training or employment opportunities both on land and at sea.

OYT Scotland, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019, takes to sea more than 800 young people every year on residential youth work voyages aboard its sailing yachts. While on board, young people are required to embrace the principles of teamwork, communication, responsibility, leadership, domestic tasks and can earn SQA qualifications - in addition to learning the skills involved with sailing an ocean-going yacht.

Yasmin Price (17) is completing a Modern Apprenticeship at OYT Scotland and, as a result of her experiences sailing with the Trust, is committed to pursuing a career at sea. During her current apprenticeship, she is developing skills and knowledge that will allow her to gain RYA qualifications and valuable experience that will further her future career goals to work at sea full time.

Yasmin first sailed with OYT Scotland in 2017, and on discovering her passion for working at sea, she applied to return as a cadet. Since then she has taken part in OYT Scotland’s Young Leaders Development Programme voyage to St Kilda, where she gained SQA qualifications in Leadership and has recently passed both her Coastal Skipper and her Yachtmaster Coastal exams.

Chloe Aitken (17) completed three voyages with OYT Scotland. She is profoundly deaf, experienced bullying at school and was beginning to disengage with education as a result. Since joining the Trust she has achieved the basic qualifications in seamanship and an SQA-recognised Leadership award. She now volunteers with OYT Scotland, acting as Bosun as other young people set out on their first voyage. Inspired by her experiences, she has now secured an apprenticeship at college with the Merchant Navy. The intention is that this project will engage with more young people like Chloe and Yasmin.

Yasmin Price commented: “These employability voyages will provide the perfect opportunity to promote the benefits of youth work at sea for all young people, while actively encouraging more young women and girls to consider pursuing a career in sailing. It is our hope that by piloting this new project, we can continue to promote this programme to more groups of young women in future years and start the process of inspiring future generations of female sailors.”

A spokesperson from Foundation Scotland commented: “This funding supports the groups on the ground that are making a huge difference to the lives of women and girls. We know there is huge demand out there for these services and are proud to help small organisations working in our community to access vital public funding, which otherwise they may miss out on.”

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