Welsh Charities Week 2021

Welsh Charities Week is taking place between 15th – 19th November 2021 and is the opportunity to shine a light on the amazing work that Welsh Charities and their volunteers do across Wales.

Challenge Wales has worked with a diverse range of organisations and individuals, not just in Wales but throughout the UK and overseas, and all of this is delivered with the help of our amazing team of volunteers onboard our sail training vessels; Challenge Wales | Wales Tall Ship and Adventure Wales.

Supported by ITV Cymru Wales and hosted by the WCVA (Welsh Council for Voluntary Action) this is a great opportunity for Challenge Wales to shout about its innovative youth work which takes people to sea.

Activities onboard Challenge Wales’ vessels help young people learn essential life skills, broaden their horizons, improves mental health and helps people understand about sustainability in a hands-on way. The award-winning charity offers an accredited learning programme onboard the largest sailing boat in Wales and although South Wales is the home port for Challenge Wales and Adventure Wales, activities take them to West Wales, North Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England and overseas.

Read more about the impact of Challenge Wales sail training activities on young people.

World Sailing RYA and Steering the Course logo

World Sailing Global Women’s Sailing Festival Features Challenge Wales Trustee

The #SteeringThe Course festival is focussing on inspirational women participating in sailing, whether it is on the water, or off, but who are playing their part in getting people involved in sailing.

Vicky Williams, part of the Challenge Wales team

Vicky shares her story with World Sailing/RYA Cymru;

“I came from a non-sporty, non-sailing family and was introduced into sailing by a friend in my late teens, who I sailed for fun with on a few occassions. At that time I was actively competing in Dragon Boat Racing (which I really loved) and really enjoyed being on the water but sailing was completely new and a bit outside my comfort zone. My first sailing experiences were all about being an extra body onboard and just having a go. A few years later my husband (who had been a competitive sailor) bought a 41ft boat and I learnt the basics of sailing, learning the ropes and becoming a competent pair of hands.

A few years later I had the opportunity to jump onboard a Challenge 72, an ex round-the-world racing yacht (now known as Challenge Wales) and knowing how sailing might not always be or feel that accessible and that it can really develop social, communication and teamwork skills, I became a Board Member of the Challenge Wales sail training charity. A charity that uses sailing to inspire and develop young people to achieve their potential. Giving young people the opportunity to sail Challenge Wales and now our second vessel Adventure Wales has enabled some to take a career into the sailing world, for others it has enabled a career into the marine world, for others it has enabled them to feel positive about themselves and motivated them that anything can be possible.

Initially, I was not just a board member but a volunteer crew on many of the voyages but as I was hands-on with helping the new charity develop I stepped back from crewing to enable me to also meet all the people who were jumping onboard, bring in funding and recruit volunteer crew. Now as we head into our 12th year of operation I am amazed how far Challenge Wales has grown. The charity has sailed with thousands of young people jumping onboard, we have 100 volunteers as positive role models, our innovative sail training programme has received recognition within the industry and youth work sector and we even represented Wales at the Queens Jubilee Pageant in London in 2012.

In 2019 we piloted a couple of Ladies Only Sailing Days and a Sea and Tell programme which brings our sailing activities and sea-safety to younger children who can explore our boats in a safe way.

Being outdoors on the water is great for your mental health and connecting with nature and I am passionate about sustainability and environmental issues particularly microplastics (unfortunately) so it’s great that I can do this and learn through sailing and more importantly share my enthusiasm with others. I am one of those people that if I see an opportunity I grab it with both hands and will also encourage others to do the same. I hope for those who haven’t started sailing when they were really young realise there are still opportunities for getting involved out there.

Challenge Wales offers sailing opportunities for adults as well as young people. The charity works with young people aged 12 – 25 years but other activities the charity does means those aged 18 – 80 can also come sailing, volunteer as crew or get involved behind the scenes to enable more young people to have the opportunity.


Challenge Wales Nominated For Youth Work Excellence Award

We’re excited to announce that we’ve been nominated for an award in the Equality and Diversity category of the Welsh Government’s Youth Work Excellence Award 2020.

The awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding youth work projects that are taking place across Wales and changing lives for the better. It’s a really nice surprise to be nominated as there are so many other deserving youth organisations doing fantastic work, like us.

Challenge Wales’ project ‘Voyages of Discovery’ has been nominated which worked with a diverse range of young people giving them life skills development opportunities plus accreditation – something tangible for a CV which many participants had originally thought was out of their reach.

The ‘Voyages of Discovery’ project aligned with a number of initiatives, policies and plans at local, national and UK government level including, in particular, the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015). The Project was also relevant to Welsh Government’s Charter for Youth Work in particular the statement that all young people in Wales are entitled to easy access to “opportunities to take part in outdoor adventure and in residential and international experiences”.

The young people taking part in Challenge Wales’ sail training activities were aged 14 – 25 years and included those with learning difficulties, and/or disabilities; young people living in areas of high unemployment and from inner cities; unemployed and NEET; Care leavers; those who were homeless or in supported housing; In care/Local Authority Care; those with mental health issues; Welsh speakers; those whose first language was not English; cultural/ethnic minorities; LGBTQ+ community members; Young Carers; those with long term health issues; substance misusers; those based in rural areas with access to few opportunities; those with a parent in prison and young offenders. Challenge Wales differs from many other youth organisations in that the charity works across a diverse mix of young people rather than focussing on one or two areas paralleled with a learning environment at sea makes Challenge Wales one of the most unique learning and youth work settings in Wales.

As one youth worker said: “The group was put together because of low self-esteem, lack of confidence. Being part of a team sailing Challenge Wales has enabled the group to believe in themselves that they can do and will do activities outside of their comfort zones….a positive outcome”.

Being nominated for the award, and recognised that we are playing a big part in youth work, is a fantastic testament to our amazing volunteers who tirelessly give up their time to work with these amazing young people and help focus them onto new horizons in a positive way.

We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed to see if we have won. Winners will be announced from 3.00pm on Friday 9th October 2020 on the Welsh Governments Education Wales You Tube Channel here.

Volunteers Week 2020 Logo Challenge Wales Wythnos Gwirfoddolwyr

Volunteers’ Week 2020

As Volunteer’s Week 2020 comes to close, it’s an opportunity to reflect on what our amazing volunteers do and how lockdown, has made things very different.

We tend to celebrate with our volunteers at the beginning of December. The end of the year gives us an opportunity, as a charity, to look back on the past 12 months. It gives us an opportunity to share successes and to get volunteers to tell us what they think, what they need, what we could do better doing at an informal and fun evening. It gives volunteers an opportunity to get to know each other and share their own stories.

Previously during Volunteers’ Week we have been working the boats. Racing on the South Coast at one of our fundraising events or sailing with adult and youth groups onboard in different parts of the UK. This year is very different though. We’ve only had a couple of volunteers (maximum) onboard the boats at any one time keeping the maintenance ticking over. The boats lay still in our home port of Penarth Marina.

Our volunteers donate thousands of hours of their time (collectively) each year. Many help crew the boats, while working with young people and adults – a job that isn’t always all that easy when you throw in a mixture of weather and waves! Some help shore-side and lend a hand on our ship-shape days; ensuring the boats are ready to go at a moment’s notice.

However, at a time when no sailing or shore-side activities are taking place we have found our volunteers have undertaken their own fundraising to help support Challenge Wales, or have sponsored others. That has been amazing and over a weekend (ish) over £1,000 was raised (whoopee and virtual high five!). Volunteers have been reaching out on email, phone and Facebook group to give us a few ideas to develop, to offer help and support, to keep in touch and say hello.

Like many charities, who at this time are not even in a position to earn any income and aren’t eligible for any special relief packages from the Chancellor, we will be relying on our amazing volunteers to help us to continue delivering our life-changing activities when it is safe for us to start operating again. That moment can’t come soon enough.

Challenge Wales will be looking to embrace the new normal and our volunteers will continue to be at the heart of what we do and who we are.

Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t have been awarded the top international award last year for our innovative and inspiring work: “Sail Training Organisation of the Year“. We wouldn’t have inspired so many young people to turn their lives around, focus on new or different things. We wouldn’t have made our activities as accessible as they are and provide the opportunity for those who thought the opportunity was out of their reach.

Quite often policymakers don’t’ often understand or truly recognise the role of volunteers and how valuable a part they play in society. Although the pandemic has shown how vital volunteers are in the cohesion of communities. Opinion-formers and funders often overlook the expense to effectively support volunteers in what is a highly regulated environment. Challenge Wales has been lucky in the past that the Big Lottery Community Fund has helped us to support our volunteers but with this funding ended, we need to ensure other funders are aware of this and how valuable our volunteers are, who can’t be taken for granted.

So Happy Volunteer’s Week 2020, we anticipate next year’s event to be truly celebratory as our Volunteers come back to volunteering with us. We miss seeing our volunteers and look forward to welcoming our volunteers, and new ones, back onboard….whenever that will be!

Challenge Wales volunteers on Barry Island beach doing a microplastics survey

Challenge Wales joins in with global microplastics survey

Plastic pollution is hidden and obvious and it’s impact on marine life and the environment is shocking. So when Challenge Wales had the opportunity to play its part in a collaborative global citizen science project, we jumped at it.

On a February weekend, our volunteers headed to the beach to play their part. With high-vis jackets donned, sieves and bits of rope in hand it was time to bring science to life.

Just One Ocean and the University of Portsmouth have set up the Big Microplastic Survey to understand more about the impact of micoplastics on the environment and marine life and the Challenge Wales charity is now another group around the world that are taking part in this scientific study.

Volunteers marked out the area to be sampled, took a sample of sand and using a sieve and some water separated the sand from the plastics. Although it was volunteers undertaking this first survey, it will be young people aged 12 – 25 years who will be driving it forward and taking part in future surveys.

Challenge Wales volunteers sampling for microplastics on Barry Island Beach

Last year Challenge Wales launched an accredited Agored Cymru Environmental Project with Volvo Ocean Race Skipper, Dee Caffari who was racing on Turn the Tide on Plastic. The charity is already part of a science project measuring plankton so the microplastic survey is a great addition to the environmental awareness work the charity is already doing.

Challenge Wales voyages range in duration from 1 – 14 days and visits different coastal regions around the UK and overseas so there will be lots of opportunities for young people and adults to contribute significantly to the Big Microplastics Survey in 2019 and beyond.

We’ve blown this image up to make it easier to see what we are looking at. Look carefully and amongst the natural debris you can see different coloured microplastic pieces and polystyrene

Not only is this new study bringing science to life but also helps numeracy and literacy skills as well as improving teamwork, communication and leadership development. This activity will be undertaken on both the charity’s vessels Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship and Adventure Wales.


The Agored Cymru Environmental Project was set up as part of the Charity’s ‘Voyages of Discovery’ programme which is funded by the Big Lottery Community Fund.
Adventure Wales has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government and through the Social Business Growth Fund, which is managed by WCVA (Welsh Council of Voluntary Action).

We’re Recruiting | Rydym Yn Recriwtio

Challenge Wales is currently looking to appoint new members (unpaid) to the Board of Trustees to enable the charity to continue to develop & innovate and provide many more life-changing opportunities for young people over the coming years.

We particularly welcome candidates who will bring onboard skills in Fundraising, Marine Operations, Law, Recruitment, Environmental / Sustainability or additional diversity to the existing Board.

Could this be you?

Trustee Role Description and Person Specification
Deadlines:
10th February 2019 and role(s) will remain open is suitable candidate(s) aren’t found.
How to applyEmail your completed Application Form (Rev4) and covering letter, which should detail your suitability.

 

 

Mae Her Cymru yn gobeithio penodi aelodau newydd (di-dâl) i Fwrdd yr Ymddiriedolwyr i alluogi’r elusen i barhau i ddatblygu ac arloesi a darparu rhagor o gyfleoedd a fydd yn newid bywydau pobl ifanc dros y blynyddoedd i ddod.

Rydym yn arbennig o awyddus i groesawu ymgeiswyr a fydd yn dod â sgiliau Codi Arian, Cyfreithiol, Recriwtio, Amgylcheddol / Cynaliadwyedd, neu amrywiaeth ychwanegol i’r Bwrdd presennol.

Ai chi yw’r person hwn?

Disgrifiad Rôl a Manyleb Person yr Ymddiriedolwr
Dyddiadau cau
: 10 Chwefror 2019, a bydd y rôl/rolau yn parhau i fod ar agor os nad oes ymgeisydd/ ymgeiswyr addas
Sut i ymgeisio: E-bostiwch eich cais wedi’i chwblhau  (Rev4) a llythyr eglurhaol, a ddylai nodi eich addasrwydd.

2018 – A Review Of Our Charity Year

From winning awards, to launching new accredited learning…it’s been an amazing year of successes for Challenge Wales.

On what was branded as Visit Wales ‘Year of the Sea’ , we’ll take you on a quick tour of 2018 looking at some of our highlights, as we look forward to celebrating our 10th birthday in 2019!

The first six months of 2018;
In January, the charity had its first permanent salaried sea staff join the team and volunteers onboard Challenge Wales appeared in BBC’s Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys

MIchael Portillo Great Railway Journeys Challenge Wales

 

 

 

 

 

 

February saw us undertake our first residential voyage, brrr it was a chilly one but great to have central heating onboard, and we were excited to win Highly Commended in both the Innovation and People Development categories at the South Wales Business Growth Awards
In April we banned one-use plastic water bottles onboard our vessels and started to issue all young people sailing with us with a Challenge Wales reusable drinks bottle. It was very difficult to manage banning one-use plastic water bottles but it became a great conversation point and raised awareness onboard
May saw the charity commission it’s newly acquired second vessel Adventure Wales and within a few weeks was heading to the Tall Ships Regatta to represent Cardiff, Wales and the UK. It was great that the vessel won the Sail Training International Environment Award! While Adventure Wales was taking part in cultural, youth events, Challenge Wales was Volvo Hunting and welcomed the Volvo Ocean Race fleet into Cardiff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In June we integrated litter picking into our teamwork activities and June was the month we launched our accredited Agored Cymru Environmental Project with Dee Caffari, Skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic. We had aligned ourselves with Turn the Tide on Plastic as Dee was the only female skipper in the race, 50% of the crew were male/female, it had a really strong environmental message, had the youngest crew in the race and, at the time, the only Welsh sailor onboard. We also picked up the Amazing Space award in the Zokit Business Awards.

 

 

 

 

 

The second half of 2018 saw the charity;
Winning the Social Media Award at the start of the Tall Ships Races in Sunderland in July
In August we launched a sail training programme in North Wales on Adventure Wales and Challenge Wales returned from 49 days of sailing overseas, welcoming 10 different nationalities onboard and taking part in Europe’s largest free, youth, cultural event that was attended by millions of people!
November saw one of our trustees get invited to the Sail Training International Conference in Seville to speak about Challenge Wales’ sustainability journey
and believe it or not, our last voyage of the year happened at the beginning of December!

We welcomed quite a few new, fantastic volunteers to the team and set up no fewer than 30 partnerships with youth organisations who have seen the value of sail training and the impact it can have on young people. We’ve seen many of our young people succeed at getting bursary funding to help them get onboard – as we say, if young people want to take advantage of an opportunity but can’t afford it, we’ll help them to make that opportunity become reality.

 

Although we are small, we are proud of what we have achieved this year and remember;  “If you think you are too small to make an impact – try going to sleep with a mosquito in your cabin”  (quote unknown)

 Thank you so much to our donors, funders, volunteers, supporters and our amazing young people for a memorable 2018!

See you in 2019 for more educational adventures!

 

 

 

 

Challenge Wales volunteers evening at Crepe Escape

Festive Evening Celebrates Challenge Wales Volunteers

It was a festive thank you to the amazing Challenge Wales volunteers who’ve donated thousands of hours of their time this year.

Volunteers gathered at the award-winning restaurant Crepe Escape, in Penarth, as Trustees of the charity said a big thank you to those who have helped Challenge Wales this year in delivering voyages, fundraising and maintenance activities.

It’s the volunteers who are working with the young people through accredited onboard learning or our life skills development programme and giving up lots of their time to help others, and then coming back time and time again.

Challenge Wales Trustee, Vicky shared just a few of the amazing achievements that had happened in 2018. In particular, the launch of the second vessel Adventure Wales and starting a sail training programme in North Wales, launching an environmental accredited programme at the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover in Cardiff, doing our first group litter pick to raise awareness of one-use plastic getting into the marine environment and representing Wales and the UK at the spectacular Tall Ships Races.

Without our volunteers, these activities just wouldn’t be happening and our sail training programme wouldn’t be growing.

It was great to see familiar faces and new volunteers getting festive and the charity is now looking forward to an exciting 2019 as it celebrates its 10th birthday!!

Challenge Wales volunteers evening 2018

Almost 3000 miles later, Challenge Wales Returns Home to Cardiff

After almost 50 days away, Challenge Wales is returning home to Penarth today having had an amazing youth-led summer of adventure.

Having left her home port of Penarth Marina in June crewed by young people from Newport, Challenge Wales set sail for the South Coast for an adult fundraiser before heading to Sunderland for the start of the Tall Ships Races which would see us visit Esbjerg (Denmark), Stavanger (Norway), Harlingen (Netherlands) before returning into UK waters.

The rest of the summer would see young people jumping onboard representing no fewer than 10 different nationalities to experience one of the largest cultural, youth events in Europe as we represented Cardiff, Wales and the UK.

Those onboard would be racing, cooking, cleaning and running the boat…often jumping onboard with no experience whatsoever….but that’s fine as our volunteers and sea-staff help show everyone the ropes (literally!)

To get a snapshot of what was being experienced on Challenge Wales take a look at the film that one of our French trainees put together;

Although our summer has been fun, it has been educational which underpins all our activities.

From making ourselves more plastic aware and doing a litter pick at one of the ports we stopped at, to developing teamwork and communication skills, meeting young people from all over the world and understanding and accepting different cultures, to working in watches and strict routines, to broadening horizons and developing confidence and making new friends through adventure – It’s sail training in action. We are also proud to have given every young person who joined us a reusable drinks bottle to use during the voyage and to take home afterwards in our efforts to educate young people on the damage one-use plastic is doing to the environment.

49 young people have jumped onboard over the last few weeks, some were doing their Gold DofE, some were wanting to put something different onto their CV, some were onboard as they were deserving of a place and had been nominated for the experience while others were onboard working on an accredited environmental project. What was really good to see was that some of the young people who booked onto one leg, asked to stay on for the next voyage…so we must be doing something really special for that to happen!

What also made the Tall Ships Races exciting was not just the range of weather conditions from no wind to 35 knots, sailing non-stop through the night in watches or seeing a whale (albeit briefly), was that the Tall Ships fleet were trackable so parents, families and friends could follow our progress from home. With regular updates on twitter too, it really felt that you were there experiencing it with the young people!

Did you know that Challenge Wales volunteers helped deliver our summer adventures and this year amazingly 21 volunteers donated collectively almost 250 days of their time to make our overseas summer voyages happen?

And, with Wales’ sail training charity heading towards its 10th birthday next year, who knows what other exciting adventures are on the horizon and will be shared. #SharetheAdventure

Challenge Wales arrives into Harlingen at the end of the Tall Ships Races 2018. Pic courtesy of Sail Training International

 

A big THANK YOU to our volunteers

It has been a busy year, as we look back, reflect, reminisce and smile at all the great moments we have had.

But, without our volunteers giving up so much of their time Challenge Wales just wouldn’t be the charity it is. So on Thursday 14th December, we brought many of our volunteers together at our festive Volunteers Evening in Penarth to say thank you and to celebrate our successes.

One of Challenge Wales’ Trustees presents an overview of 2017 to volunteers and guests

It isn’t just the volunteer crew that were thanked but also the shore-side volunteers that have helped within the office, or onboard with maintenance and painting. The evening took a brief look back at everything we had done and my goodness what a lot of amazing stuff we had done!

2017 saw us welcome more young people than ever onboard from North, West, South and Mid Wales. We worked with more young people with learning difficulties and continued to welcome new volunteers into the Challenge Wales fold.

We also used the evening to say thank you to our funders who help ensure we reach the young people that need to be reached.

We look forward to a just as amazing 2018!

If you are inspired to be a Challenge Wales volunteer, then don’t forget to check out our volunteer page on our website.