THE Set Sail Trust has organised and funded two Herm Island outdoor activity weekends for families this Spring. This new initiative provides the opportunity to spend the weekend away and stay overnight on Herm Island, engaging in a full programme of fun outdoor pursuits.
Jointly funded by the Set Sail Trust, Outdoor Guernsey and Herm Island, the weekends are a public-private initiative designed to help people who may not normally be able to experience the delights of the beautiful island of Herm and the pleasure of outdoor and sea sports. The families enjoy a weekend away from home on Guernsey’s sister island, with action packed days and restful nights.
The objectives of the weekends are:
* to enable families who wouldn’t normally be able to afford such a weekend to visit Herm and take part in outdoor activities
* to build positive relationships between parents and children
* to develop self-esteem, build confidence and encourage positive behaviour in children who may otherwise find it difficult to work in groups.
The first successful weekend ran over 23-25 March, with a group suffering from conditions as varied as ADHD, cerebral palsy, tourettes and other communication / social problems. The groups comprised of children aged 9 upwards to older teens, from single parents to a family of five.
Two self-catering cottages were provided for the families’ use by Herm Island and the weekend of 28-29 April will see Action for Children / Youth Justice facilitate a group of teens and youth workers on a similar weekend.
Charles Billson, co-trustee of the Set Sail Trust commented “One of our objectives is to “pump-prime” appropriate projects to bring them to fruition and to act as a conduit to bring parties together. We are grateful to Outdoor Guernsey and Herm Island for their collaboration in enabling us to achieve our aim and provide a tremendous experience for these families and young people.”
Andrea Nightingale, the Coordinator of the States of Guernsey’s Drug & Alcohol Strategy was involved with the planning: “We’re grateful for the Set Sail Trust’s support. It has been great to offer this amazing chance to families, so that they can spend time away from home, enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed and safe environment and try out new activities together which they may not have been able to experience before. It is too good an opportunity to miss.”
Channel Island adventure sports company Outdoor Guernsey led the activities and provided all the necessary sports and safety equipment. After a safety briefing over breakfast, families enjoyed kayaking at Shell Beach on sit-on double Malibu 2 kayaks for 90 minutes, with everyone paddling across the bay and some children being confident enough to stand up.
The three families who have young people suffering from ADHD also enjoyed trying out archery for the first time and geocaching: an introduction to the global treasure hunt including a visit to the Dragon’s Lair mine shaft.
The 6-hour activity day also included exploring the Herm coastal rocks and a walk across the island on the spine road.
Ant Ford-Parker, the owner of Outdoor Guernsey has worked for many years in Youth services and charities devising activities that give young people and adults these kinds of experiences. He explained: “I understand how important it is for sufferers to take time out of a demanding situation and replace it with something positive, rather than perhaps escaping in other ways. I am delighted to be part of the Set Sail Trust’s Herm activity weekends. Whatever the weather, Herm is a beautiful place and we aim to help young people and their families have an enjoyable time, and maybe try a few things they may not have done before!”
He went on to say “Fun and adventure for young people and their families in the outdoors can be a huge morale boost and the challenges created by Outdoor Guernsey can provide the kind of shared experiences that can bring respite or sometimes a new direction in a difficult life.”
Three people from Outdoor Guernsey helped out on the initiative.
The comments from the families who attended in March are testament to the benefits of such weekends:
“We would like to thank you all and to say we appreciated the effort we know you put into it to make the holiday weekend break in Herm so active and enjoyable. The families had such a wonderful time, the accommodation was absolutely perfect and the weather was ideal. The children did not want to leave!” said Karen Garnham, ADHD Support Group Chairperson & Wigwam member.
“Thank you so much for an excellent weekend. It was absolutely fantastic, and a good time was had by all. The Herm Tavern staff were very friendly, and the Outdoor Guernsey guys were helpful and informative and their planned activities ran smoothly & safely.” The Garnham, Guillou, and Petty families.
“Thank you for a wonderful weekend. Myself and the children had a weekend to remember. The accommodation, meals in the Mermaid and the activities were fantastic. The only downside was having to leave Herm…”
“We would like to thank you all and to say we appreciate the effort we know you put into it to make the weekend break in Herm so active and enjoyable. The families had such a wonderful time, the accommodation was absolutely perfect and the weather was ideal. The children did not want to leave! Thank you so much for an excellent weekend! It was absolutely fantastic, and a good time was had by all.”
“[We’re] just happy to be given the opportunity of taking part.”
The Trust hopes to continue the good work with two more weekends available in early Autumn. Andrea concluded: “It has been a privilege to be part of this initiative and we hope that with the generosity shown by Set Sail Trust, Outdoor Guernsey and Herm Island we can continue to provide young people and their families with memorable moments and a positivity that will stay with them forever”.
The Set Sail Trust also provided fleecy hoodies to keep everyone warm while heading off to Herm. One child participant commented: “It was a nice way to keep warm, and have a reminder of our weekend!”