The not for profit sail training organisation will specifically focus on helping young people in care and care leavers in the UK

A sail training organisation has been launched to help improve the lives of young people in care and care leavers in the UK.

The non-profit Care to Sail has been set up by Declan Cox, 22, who has direct experience of the care system.

‘Prior to being adopted, I suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse over a sustained period of time as well as being neglected.

‘As a result, my own mental health was really poor until I found sailing,’ Cox told YM.

Declan Cox, founder and Chief Executive of Care to Sail

Declan Cox, founder and chief executive of Care to Sail. Credit: Shaun Roster Photography

For a substantial period during his teenage years Cox was homeless. He had made several suicide attempts by the age of 15.

Cox was, however, ‘lucky enough’ to have a ‘couple of good people in my life that would take me out sailing.’

‘Sailing saved my life. It helped me form positive relationships and grow to be the person that I am today.

‘It made me determined to help others who have had a difficult start in life,’ he added.

Making a difference

Cox believes young people in care have much poorer prospects, with around half suffering from a mental health condition.

There are many sail training organisations which support young disadvantaged people. However, there is not one which specifically focuses on working with those who have experienced the care system.

Cox is working alongside offshore skipper and racer Amelia Ralphs, who has previously sailed on Tracy Edwards’s Maiden at the start of The Maiden Factor tour.

Amelia Ralphs, Director of Sailing, Care to Sail

Amelia Ralphs, director of sailing, Care to Sail. Credit: Shaun Roster Photography

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Based in Glasgow, Care to Sail will offer sail training, including RYA courses. Plus intensive support programmes to help young people with issues like mental health.

A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to raise an initial £10,000.

Declan Cox and Amelia Ralphs, of Care to Sail. Credit: Shaun Roster Photography

There are also plans to offer a round-the-world voyage on a Challenge 72. The aim is to set sail in 2022 with 12 young people, aged 18 and over, who have experience of the care system.