Sailing Can Help Mental Health

Excelsior Trust shares how the experiences of Callum and Eleanor’s time onboard the 101 year old sailing smack has helped their own metal health. Helping them to feel self-belief and motivation once again and build their self-esteem. 

Excelsior Trust, established nearly 40 years ago, offers life changing opportunities for disadvantaged young people, improving their mental wellbeing and life skills. With greater public awareness of mental health issues, the Trust is keen to challenge and develop young people, particularly the least advantaged. Providing experiences and skills that create self-belief and motivation encourages them to re-define their self-esteem, attitude and horizons in order to inspire and maximise their long-term potential.

Callum’s Story

At the age of 16 Callum’s life was not a happy one. He received an offending order for burglary and was being supervised by a Youth Offending Team. A visionary officer on the team discovered that he wanted to join the Navy and enjoyed cooking and contacted Excelsior Trust to see whether the charity could offer Callum some structure as well as constructive challenges.

Callum joined the boat for a week-long trip which soon became a month, and then two. Given responsibilities and learning to work in a team he took part in a sailing race, passed a Competency Crew certificate and received such a positive report from the Skipper that he was offered funding for further trips.

Callum has turned his life around. Distancing himself from his previous friendship group he attended college, gaining a catering qualification. The Court Magistrates were so pleased with his progress that his Order was revoked. Callum is now a qualified chef and, to complete his new life, has become a father!

There are many similar stories told by young people who have had a chance to experience life on board this 101 year old sailing smack. A common feeling amongst them is how involved they became in the whole experience. Learning new skills, working as part of a team and developing strong friendships.

Eleanor’s Story

At 14 Eleanor sailed on board the boat to Holland. “I hadn’t realised how involved I’d become in the whole experience. I’d had a hard time at home over the previous few months and my trip on Excelsior has helped me calm down. I really liked that everyone came together to help each other no matter what. I had an awesome time.”

The professional crew encourages individuals to become part of the team, split into ‘watches’ so there is also the opportunity to enjoy a break from the various tasks involved in sailing Excelsior. Amazingly for young people one of the most popular is the Dawn Watch! Seeing the sun rise over the horizon whilst at sea is a memory many carry with them for a long time.

Excelsior recently celebrated her centenary and was also awarded Freedom of the Town of Lowestoft.

Find out more about the Excelsior Trust here.

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