Our flagship “un-Locking Confidence Afloat” Project provides a free, waterborne, educational and recreational experience aboard our purpose-built barge for children and young people between the ages of 4 and 24. Many of our users have disabilities, special needs or have had to overcome significant other disadvantages and hurdles in their young lives. The un-Locking Confidence Afloat Project is funded entirely by grants, gifts and donations.
“The un-Locking Confidence Afloat really is a wonderful project and it’s very obvious to us just how life-changing this is for the youngsters.” (Lesley Wainwright, Gripple Ltd)
Many of our users face multiple difficulties to overcome, but the Ethel experience provides ample opportunities for all our users to develop in their own way, and at their own pace.
For some of our users just setting foot on to the boat can be a challenge. The progress that many young people make in a relatively short period of time on Ethel cannot be underestimated. Please see the wonderful presentation put together by Wilsic School at the foot of the page.
Through the winter months the base for our Unlocking Confidence project is at the Victoria Quays, Sheffield. The cruising is confined to the canal route through the old, former industrial heartland of Sheffield.
Towards the end of May the boat is then moved up to Thorne, Doncaster, for the summer boating season. This affords the users with a longer day cruise or residential in rural South Yorkshire.
We have worked with hundreds of users from across South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and West Yorkshire. We have even had community groups from as far afield as Durham and the Midlands who have enjoyed return trips with us.
During 2016 we will run well over 60 free day trips and 10 two or three day residential experiences which offer young people the opportunity to improve their communication skills, increase their self-esteem, and grow in confidence through boat-handling, life-skills and team-working. Last year, in 2015, thanks to the generosity of our donors and funders, we were able to reach out to well over 450 users from the wider community with this project.
For the story of one residential trip, see the Wilsic Hall Residential September 2013
Bents Green evaluation of their post-16 residential trip, May 2015
Case Study: Callum
Hillsborough College Step Out Programme
In addition please read a delightful piece written by our great friend Sue Hunter, from Wilsic School about a recent trip with children who have very particular needs.
This piece captures Ethel at her very best and the huge impact that she has on some very special young people. Thanks go to Sue for producing such a lovely article for us:
Wilsic Sensory Experience 2017