A much loved UK charity, which has been a pioneer in disability adventure and social inclusion, faces closure unless it can find £1m by this Friday.
The Jubilee Sailing Trust, which was founded by a Grant from The Queen’s Silver Jubilee Fund in 1978, owns and operates two globally unique, purpose-built tall ships that are fully enabled for people with disabilities. Named Lord Nelson and Tenacious, they are two of the last four remaining UK flagged, square rigged ships on the sea.
Ben, a 42-year-old IT professional and beneficiary of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, said: “In June 2016 I collapsed on a train going into work and got taken into hospital with what was believed to be an Autoimmune Disease. Five days later I was paralysed from the waist down, five weeks after that from the neck down. I spent seven months in an acute ward and then four months in rehab.
“This summer I completed a week’s voyage on the Lord Nelson. Being now paralysed from the chest down, I rarely left my adapted apartment. And now here I was on a tall ship, out to sea with 40 people I’d never met before.
“I was treated as a working member of crew like everyone else, but my mindset had been so negative over the past year I felt that I couldn’t join in with anything due to my disability. That all changed when I hoisted myself out of my wheelchair up the main
mast to the lookout point.
“When I got to the top, absolutely shattered, I heard the whole ship cheer. When I sat there taking in the breathtaking view everything suddenly seemed to click. Gone was the negativity and the constant ‘I can’t don’t this’ rattling around my head.”
Duncan Souster, CEO of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, said: “The JST has been a world leader on inclusive adventure since its inception and has played an important role in changing the perception of people with disabilities, long before these issues were in the public eye. Our work is transformative and life changing for the thousands of people who sail with us. It is so important it continues for the benefit of generations to come.”
The 40 year old charity has taken nearly 50,000 people to sea, many of whom have physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, or faced other challenges in their lives. Although focused mainly on the UK, their mission has reached every continent and over 150 countries.
During the organisation’s voyages, which are typically a week or longer, the ship is crewed by people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. The intensity of the experience encourages profound personal growth and the different groups onboard have to work together as a team, breaking down social barriers and promoting inclusion. The charity has a challenging business model, with two expensive ships to operate, and has been operating without any significant reserves for some time. Despite recent progress improving its financial footing, it has been hit by short-term cash flow issues brought about by the deferral of some partner projects to 2020 and unplanned
engineering issues on both ships. Their aim is to raise £1m this week to safeguard the future of their work and Trustees
will meet on Monday July 8th to determine the organisation’s fate.
If you would like to learn more about the JST, or support their emergency appeal, then visit their website: https://jst.org.uk/emergencyappeal/