SEAS Sailability activities improve wellbeing of disabled people and their families
“Everyone relaxes, anxiety levels are significantly reduced, tensions within families ease.”
SEAS Sailability is a charity for disabled people, their carers and families in north Wales, based at The Conway Centre on the Menai Strait in Anglesey.
The charity was awarded a £10,000 National Lottery grant to run a programme of boating and sailing activities over the summer of 2021, for disabled people and their families to share experiences and improve wellbeing.
We spoke to Richard Horovitz, Director at SEAS Sailability, who told us more about the charity and their work.
How SEAS Sailability was born
“SEAS was built on the powerful experiences of myself and Jon Gamon (SEAS Technical Director) when working for the Ministry of Defence, providing a similar facility for service personnel returning from the combat zone of Afghanistan, enabling them to reconnect and bond with their partners and children.
We found that experiencing a shared sailing adventure together in a thrilling natural environment drew the families together dramatically, releasing tensions, creating a bond of trust and togetherness. Based on the experience of how the children of service families benefited, we also ran a dedicated day for Young Carers of North Wales.
In 2017, SEAS Sailability began providing this experience for disabled people, their families and carers in north Wales, to enable them to connect and bond, and to improve the quality of life for them all. The feedback from all attendees was excellent. This was especially true for children in the family of a disabled person as they often perform the role of carer for a disabled parent or sibling – sometimes as the sole carer. Their sense of accomplishment in having an adventure with a disabled family member is virtually tangible, and very moving.
Word quickly spread. SEAS Sailability grew from taking 40 disabled people, their families and carers sailing in 2017, to 938 individual sailing experiences in 2019, all organised and overseen by highly trained and qualified volunteers and professionals, and in conjunction with numerous local established charities and Carers Outreach Service for North West Wales.”
Why SEAS Sailability?
“SEAS stands for Supporting Enabling Accessible Sailing and Sailability is the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) recognised term for disabled sailing. In 2019 the charity won the RYA #MoreThanSailing Award at the Sailability National Conference.”
Accessible activities give excitement, adventure and joy
“SEAS Sailability supports and enables disabled people of any degree of disability and of any age, and importantly their family and carers, to share experiences and have fun together adventurously and safely on the water - in sailing boats, power boats, kayaks, canoes and on rafts they build themselves. We raise money to buy specialist equipment which makes adventures accessible. Disabled people were previously unable to experience these adventures together with their family and carers.
The benefits of such activities and adventures cannot be overemphasised. Everyone relaxes, anxiety levels are significantly reduced, tensions within families ease and there’s a great sense of accomplishment and an enhanced resilience, all of which contributes to making life considerably easier for everyone involved. All participants provide feedback to extol the values of the activities. Children in the family of a disabled person especially benefit from ease of anxiety within their family bubble.
The disabled people, their families and carers, and children within those families, have been severely disadvantaged due to both their extreme vulnerability to COVID-19 and the closure of many support facilities. The children have been especially disadvantaged, adding to pressures that they already had to face and deal with every day without respite. We give them that respite with some excitement, adventure, and the joy that can be seen in all SEAS photographs.”
“On the boat, my heart was full and I felt lucky to be alive”
Caren Parry, who organised for residents at Ethinog Cheshire Home to attend a session at SEAS Sailability over the summer, said, “It was a beautiful evening and both residents and staff enjoyed spending time together. We are so grateful for the opportunity to experience the pleasure and thrill of being on the water.”
Caren also shared how the sessions made some of the residents feel:
- PH said it was the best thing he has ever done and felt as free as a bird.
- LK said that when she was on the boat her heart was full, and that she felt lucky to be alive.
- MP’s dad came with him and said it was the best time he has spent with his son for many years.
- BT said that she’d forgotten that she could have fun and forgot about her disability.
- NLW expresses her happiness by jumping and she had the boat rocking!
- RJ said it brought back some amazing memories and never thought he would be able to do this again.
The Chair of Mencap Môn, Dot Gallagher, said, “Out of all the activities, it is SEAS Sailability that everyone looks forward to the most, and it’s the one that has the most significant beneficial impact on the wellbeing of members and their carers.”
Find out more about SEAS Sailability here.
Applying for a National Lottery grant
Richard eagerly encourages more groups to apply for National Lottery funding:
“We found applying to The National Lottery Community Fund to be an extremely simple process. They came back to us with a few questions about our application and asked for clarification on some details, which was great. Don’t worry about getting every minor detail in - if they need more, they’ll ask for it and won't just refuse the application. They’re great people to work with. Don’t worry about applying - just apply!”
National Lottery players raise £36 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Find out more about National Lottery funding in Wales.