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.


Coop Foundation Logo

Co-op Members Around The UK Can Support Challenge Wales

Challenge Wales is one of the charities selected by the Co-op Community Fund that will be supported this year so whether you live local to the charity or not, anyone who shops at a Co-op shop can help Challenge Wales.
This comes at a great time when food shopping is definitely an essential activity during Lockdown (and of course outside of Lockdown) and charities have been hard hit by the impact of Coronavirus.

Challenge Wales has set itself a target to raise a few thousand pounds through the Co-op and its members to help no fewer than 100 disadvantaged young people through the charity’s innovative outdoor sailing and shore-side activity programme. This will benefit the young people through improved life skills, improved individual potential, and improved mental health, something that Coronavirus has really impacted on.
Young people hoisting a sail on the Adventure Wales boat in Cardiff

To help Challenge Wales reach its target, you will need to be a member of the Co-op (don’t worry, if you’re not a member yet as you can become a member for just £1….which you then get back in-store discounts) and for every £1 you spend, 2p gets donated to community organisations like us.


To choose Challenge Wales as your nominated charity please click here as every penny you spend will really help us.
Remember though, you can only raise money with your Co-op shop if you are a member of the Co-op. To become a member of Co-op you can sign up here or from our Challenge Wales page on the Co-op website.

The Co-op Foundation helps those that are disadvantaged to overcome their challenges by getting the community to work together and help young people contribute positively to their communities.

What an exciting way to start 2021. Happy Shopping!

The Only Outdoor Education Provider To Be Shortlisted For a Welsh Government Award!

What a huge achievement it was to be nominated for a Welsh Government Youth Work Excellence Award 2020. It was amazing to see so many fantastic youth work projects alongside us. Every finalist was deserving of a win. There is certainly some magical stuff going on in youth work in Wales that isn’t always seen and even more so when you’re in the middle of a pandemic.

Although Challenge Wales didn’t win an award (we were nominated in the Equality and Diversity category), we were alongside some really exciting, life-enhancing, life-changing projects that were making a positive difference to the young people of Wales, but it was interesting to see that Challenge Wales was the only finalist to represent the Outdoor Education sector.

Although it was very nice to be the only Outdoor Education provider shortlisted, we were surprised there weren’t more when Outdoor Education plays a major part in many young people’s development…..and Wales is home to an amazing outdoor classroom!

Outdoor Education is a personal experience, helping young people develop skills that can’t be learned the same way in a formal setting, it can put everyone on the same playing field regardless of their abilities and background, it provides a skills-focused learning environment with adventure and fun within a framework of safety.

Outdoor Education gets minds exploring and encourages participants to take greater responsibility in their actions, it’s about active learning and problem-solving, it helps the understanding of the natural environment and in many creates a life-long appreciation for, and long-term engagement with, the outdoors. The outdoors can create a piece of calm and digital-detox space in the madness of the modern Covid-19 world. Our own independent evaluation of our activities evidenced the positive impact and improvements being on the water had on mental health.

Outdoor Education, and going to sea, is a truly powerful tool and residential experiences in particular, as we often see on our sail training vessels, are life-changing, empowering and offer positive spaces for all.

At the moment many outdoor education organisations are struggling while residential experiences are banned despite operators like ourselves putting in new covid-safe practices and changing how activities are run.

Everything we do in life is often not risk-free, and like all outdoor education providers assessing and managing risk is something we are very much used to….it is at the heart of our operations. We sail with the most precious cargo imaginable – people. We know COVID-19 is here for a while yet and with this uncertainty, we know we have to work with this shadow over us and adapt to manage the new normal.

For those in formal education, outdoor education will form part of the new curriculum in Wales which is supposed to be introduced in 2020. Sail training and outdoor centres are going to play a vital role in this. For those in informal and non-formal learning settings, the Youth Work Strategy for Wales is about ensuring young people can thrive and have the tools and experiences to ensure that. Sail training and outdoor centres play a vital role in this as well.

The Environment Act (Wales) 2016 and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015 together create modern legislation for improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. Did you know that outdoor learning contributes to all 7 Wellbeing Goals as well as providing ‘opportunities and activities that expand horizons within and beyond the traditional learning environment of the classroom.’ (source: Wales Council for Outdoor Learning).

Like many other outdoor education providers, we feel we can offer a fantastic, positive outdoor learning experience and this educational experience shouldn’t shut its doors on those that need it.

“I regard it as the foremost task of education to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion”
Kurt Hahn (A key figure in the development of experiential education and founder of Outward Bound)

Challenge Wales is supporting the ‘SaveOutdoorEd’ campaign and working with the sail training industry and outdoor sector to ensure its voice is heard. Feel free to tag us into the conversation using the hashtag #SaveOutdoorEd and don’t forget you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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.

2 Minutes To Make A Difference

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has stopped many smaller charities in their tracks. But you can make a difference to Challenge Wales today, by nominating the charity for a £1,000 grant.

Challenge Wales needs 2 minutes of your time to help us get a grant from Movement for Good and your nomination will really count.

You will be nominating Challenge Wales for a chance to win a £1,000 grant to enable us to help young people improve their education, life skills and employability prospects. At this time, £1,000 will really make a big difference to Challenge Wales and the life-changing work we undertake with young people.

Nominating Challenge Wales couldn’t be easier:
* Visit: https://www.movementforgood.com/#nominateACharity
* Nominate ‘Challenge Wales’ using our Charity Number: 1111859

Your nomination could be the one that helps us win the £1,000 grant! By the way, you can only enter once (per email address)!

The more nominations we get, the greater our chance of winning, so please spread the word.

Nominations close on Sunday 24th May 2020, so we encourage you to vote as soon as possible. It will cost you nothing to help us, except 2 minutes of your time to nominate us.

Thank you so much for your support 🙂

Trustees of Challenge Wales picking up trophy at Sail Training International Conference

Challenge Wales Wins Top Award

Challenge Wales has scooped an international award of ‘Sail Training Organisation of the Year’ at an industry conference in Antwerp.

The award went to the charity for “Excellence, innovation and best practice in sail training with young people”. Sail Training International said prior to the announcement of the award; “There is no doubt that this organisation does some inspirational work on board with hard-to-reach individuals“.

This is an amazing award for the work that Challenge Wales has done during 2019 working with so many disadvantaged young people. This year Challenge Wales has been working with homeless/risk of homeless young people as well as young carers, those in the care system, young people with learning difficulties, LGBTQ groups and those who are financially disadvantaged through unemployment or lack of opportunities.

Over the past three years the charity has had its work independently evaluated. A sneak peak of the report which is due out in January has evidenced that sail training activities onboard Challenge Wales’ vessels Challenge Wales | Wales Tall Ship and Adventure Wales have shown young people with improved mental health after sail training activity, that activities have developed employability skills and that sail training has got young people back into work (employment and volunteering roles) and into college. We’ll be sharing lots more from the report early next year!

Challenge Wales is a predominantly volunteer-run charity and their volunteers were first to know about the win at a festive Volunteers evening a couple of days later. The award is the icing on the cake of a fantastic year.

Black Friday With A Charitable Difference

Imagine sailing by the stars, experiencing fresh air that smells of the sea and having a digital detox. That’s what one of our Black Fridays feels like…

With Christmas adverts bombarding our TV screens and sponsored adverts appearing on our social media feeds it is easy to get overwhelmed and go with the flow at this time of year. Buying things that are here today and broken / fed up with / superseded (delete as necessary) tomorrow.

So what makes our Black Fridays different?

Our Black Fridays incorporate being at sea, on a boat in sometimes an unknown situation with unknown people. It’s an experience…and that’s the big difference!

The food was delicious, the conversation was hilarious, the activity was amazing / challenging / fun (delete again as necessary), the guests onboard were interesting with their own tales to tell, the weather was perfect, we learnt new things etc. The whole experience creates memories that you can look back on and talk about in the future. The experience connects you with other people who are experiencing the same thing as you. Being outdoors improves mental health (we have independently evaluated this aspect to prove this through our Voyages of Discovery programme) and with different people, crew and weather….yep, every experience with us is different.

Surely collecting experiences, and saying ‘I did that!’ can be better in the long term than collecting materialistic things.

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Challenge Wales runs a variety of voyages for young people and adults aged 12 – 85 years. With a one day voyage costing £95 (as at Nov 2019) and with profits going to support disadvantaged young people to develop their employability skills through sailing, an experience with us can truly be life-changing. Gift vouchers are available!

Challenge Wales guests sat at the Cardiff International White Water listening to speakers

Celebrating Voyages of Discovery

A three year project funded by The Big Lottery Community Fund Wales, Voyages of Discovery, which worked with some of the most disadvantaged young people in Wales was hailed a success and celebrated its achievements at a recent community celebration event.

Over three years, the sail training charity worked with no fewer than 500 young people, 100 volunteers and developed accredited learning with Agored Cymru in an innovative sail training programme.

Challenge Wales worked in partnership with 50 youth organisations throughout Wales to reach some of the most disadvantaged young people to give them lifeskills development opportunities.

Challenge Wales display showing quotes and images
Images and quotes from young people and group leaders were on display at the celebration event

“Challenge Wales took my son for a three day trip and he loved it, he came home happier than I seen him in a long time. He’s had his fair share of difficulties and programmes like Challenge Wales make such a difference to his quality of life. Thank you all.”

The Voyages of Discovery programme developed Agored Cymru accredited learning giving young people an opportunity to put something tangible onto their CV with the Environmental Project being launched by female Skipper Dee Caffari at the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover event in Cardiff in 2018. The programme not only saw young people improving their teamwork, confidence and social networks but an unexpected outcome of the project was evidenced improvements in young people’s mental health.

Young people who had been part of our Voyages of Discovery programme talked about how the programme had impacted their lives positively and inspired them. And, it was great to see how many young people had progressed back into education, employment, volunteering or onto Challenge Wales’ mainstream sail training programme.

Guests on the evening heard from our Youth Development Officer on how our programme had reached a diverse audience, a youth worker who had been amazed at the change in the young people and a volunteer who had worked with young people and had seen first hand how the young people had developed during their time onboard.

“We all had an amazing time onboard.  The young people gained a lot of valuable experience.  The crew members were AMAZING, so positive and reassuring with all of us.  They were inspirational!” Group Leader

The project was independently evaluated and evidenced in one young person that for every £1 invested, a benefit of £7.64 was seen! Yes, this project really did have an amazing impact!!

Thank you so much to everyone who was part of our Voyages of Discovery project, it has truly taken us on an amazing journey and thanks to Cardiff International White Water who hosted the event….. of course, we had to pick a venue with water close by!!!

Finally, a really big thank you to National Lottery players and the National Lottery Community Fund who enabled us to run and develop this programme.

You can read some of our case studies from our Voyages of Discovery programme on our website.

Tall Ships Racing 2018

Nominate someone for a Tall Ships adventure

Challenge Wales is on the hunt for four deserving young people to take up a fully funded place in the spectacular Tall Ships Races 2019, and is encouraging those aged  15 – 25 years to apply.

The award-winning charity operates a small bursary scheme to subsidise UK residents to take part in its activities however, extra funding from the Cardiff Round Table this year is enabling Challenge Wales to offer four fully funded places, to those living in a CF postcode area across three of the Tall Ships legs this summer which will race in Denmark and Norway.  You can find out more by reading our Tall Ships Races Information pack.

Fully funded berths are going to be offered to those young people who are nominated and are truly deserving of a place onboard for an amazing life-changing adventure. Young people can nominate themselves or ask a teacher, parent/guardian, employer, relative or group leader to nominate them.

Successful applicants will be joining the rest of the crew and racing against other Tall Ships from the international Tall Ships fleet and will be representing Wales and the UK at these spectacular events, and no sailing experience is required to take part.

The charity is looking for young people who are wanting an adventure and are up for a challenge. Those taking part are actively running the boat, so it’s not just sailing but also cooking, cleaning and working in watches! There is lots of fun onboard too and there is a host of shore-side inter-crew activities organised as well at the end of the race.

How To Apply:

Anyone aged 15 – 25 years can contact us themselves to apply but we are also encouraging teachers, colleagues, employees, group leaders, parents and friends to nominate others, aged 15 – 25, for this opportunity who might benefit. Perhaps someone has been working hard for exams or at work and needs a break, maybe someone has had a tough few months, it might be someone who hasn’t been able to have a holiday for a few years or someone who would enjoy an adventure, challenge and experiencing new cultures. Applicants must have a valid passport.
You can download an application form here or get an application form / further details by emailing the Challenge Wales office reservations@challengewales.org  or call 029 20 704 657.

Deadline for applications is 15th May 2019.


A CF postcode area is found in Wales and is a group of postcode districts around Aberdare, Bargoed, Barry, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Cowbridge, Dinas Powys, Ferndale, Hengoed, Llantwit Major, Maesteg, Merthyr Tydfil, Mountain Ash, Penarth, Pentre, Pontyclun, Pontypridd, Porth, Porthcawl, Rhoose, Sully, Tonypandy, Treharris, Treorchy.
Successful applicants will need to write a voyage report and blog about their time onboard the boat and be available for publicity as well as completing before and after voyage surveys. Challenge Wales works hard to secure funding for its activities and any person awarded funding is required to write a thank you to the funder. There is a £35 refundable deposit to reserve a berth, this is refunded after the voyage.

As with all our voyages, our booking terms and conditions apply.

Other bursary funding is available for  UK residents for Tall Ships Racing if you are not eligible for the above and you should email Challenge Wales to see what funding is available or read our Bursaries page.

If you are a company or charity wishing to support young people to take part in other postcode areas/regions then please contact the Challenge Wales office to discuss this opportunity.