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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Tall Ships take young people from Ballymena on voyage of a lifetime

Young people on tall ship


Ten young people from Ballymena have taken to the sea with Tall Ships Youth Trust on a five day voyage.

The ten young people were joined by two local community PSNI officers, as they learned how to crew a ship and learn a range of new skills, including problem-solving and team work.

This unique initiative provides young people with transformational development to empower them to realise their full potential, supporting growth in motivation, decision making, personal responsibility, as well as community building.

This opportunity enabled the young participants to learn about the fundamental workings of a ship, how to sail safely and the importance of working together as a crew. It not only up-skilled the young people and gave them an opportunity to explore the art of sailing, but also provided them with an opportunity to grow in confidence and improve their communication and leadership skills.


Headquartered in Portsmouth, Tall Ships Youth Trust (TSYT) is a youth development charity that helps young people aged 12-25 to redefine their horizons through transformational adventures at sea. Formed in 1956, it is the UK’s oldest and largest youth development sail training charity. It is targeting areas of high deprivation, via links to port towns and cities: Liverpool, Glasgow, Belfast, Hull, Ipswich and London.


The new crew set off from Belfast Port on 29th May, returning on the 2nd June.

The voyage, which was supported by Radius Housing, brought together a group of people with no previous sailing experience and provided them the training and skills to allow them to work together and crew a ship.

The 10 young people, aged between 14 and 19, came from diverse backgrounds and have been involved in community groups in the Ballymena area. The aim of the programme is to create diversions from participation in antisocial behaviour by providing new opportunities for the young people.

Young people on board tall ship


Speaking after the crew returned, Alastair Floyd, Chief Executive, Tall Ships Youth Trust said:

“Tall Ships Youth Trust brings a cross-section of young people to work and live together in a unique, physically and mentally challenging residential environment. Everyone sets off on a level playing field with no preconceived ideas regarding backgrounds or abilities. Its vision is to empower young people to realise their full potential, supporting them on their journey to adulthood and for some, careers in the maritime sector and blue economy.”


This voyage is a culmination of a Good Relations programme for the young people which includes volunteering. The programme itinerary in the run up to the sailing included; a Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) site visit to be briefed on Water Safety, a combined operational site visit to PSNI’s Steeple Barracks for a training experience, before setting sail on the Tall Ship, a debrief session and volunteering with the Life Raft project on Rathlin Island.


Sergeant McToal from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, who is police lead for the project, added:

“This programme will help contribute towards reducing anti-social behaviour, enabling young individuals to learn how to effectively problem solve and be professionally taught on how to crew a tall ship. This opportunity is done in a safe and controlled environment, with a strong emphasis on potential future roles.”


Loma Wilson, Director of Communities at Radius Housing, who are supporting the project, said:

“Through this project we hope to inspire young people to build dreams and aspirations for their lives.  We believe that Tall Ships gives a unique opportunity to work in partnership with the PSNI to challenge and build our young people. We will continue to work with them as youth mentors on their journey into adulthood.”


The Tall Ships Voyage is supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme.

The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. A potential of £15.5m will be been invested in the St Patrick’s shared housing development and associated five-year Good Relations Plan.


Radius currently has 14 shared housing developments across Northern Ireland, and is currently developing a new £26m, 135 home project at the former St Patrick’s Barracks site in Ballymena. St. Patrick’s Barrack’s Good Relations Plan includes ‘Bridging’ events which are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes which include Health and Wellbeing and Education and Training.


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