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| September 18, 2018

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Seabirds: Brighton Enterprise Helping Young People Get In The Sea

Seabirds: Brighton Enterprise Helping Young People Get In The Sea
Georgia Kolakowski
Seabirds is a not-for-profit local enterprise aiming to raise money for local charities that carry the same ethos as the founders. As we reported last week in our tale of Martha Gunn, in the late 18th century people flocked to Brighton to swim in the sea for the benefit of their health and wellbeing. The trend slowly fell out of favour over the last century but Seabirds want to maintain the legacy that made Brighton what it is today. Kath Ferguson of Seabirds said they “have recently been referred to as the modern day Martha Gunn’s. We’ll take that!” There is still ongoing research into the benefits of sea swimming and it can be easily suggested that by spending time in open nature your mental wellbeing can improve. Kath said “When you are in the sea the constant horizon is a respite from screen scrolling. The sound of shingle moving under the waves is a welcome relief to phones beeping. The cold water gets your heart pumping and your endorphins flowing making you happy to be alive.”
Seabirds are initially working through a crowdfunding page to develop start-up funds. This money they raise will be used to produce a range of ethically produced sea-themed goods and clothing to build sustainable income for the charity to set up activity courses and events.The current money Seabirds are raising from t-shirts, swimming caps and more is going towards Surf Solace. Kath said “For every item we sell, Surf Solace will benefit financially creating a funding stream of unrestricted donations as an alternative to traditional charity grant applications. She further said “We know how much regular sea swimming has helped us, and people around us, to get through some difficult times. We are incredibly lucky, having Brighton beach on our doorstep. We want to help vulnerable young people who wouldn’t normally get the chance to swim or surf to benefit too.”
Surf Solace is a new local charity founded this year by a group of passionate and experienced volunteers. They aim to act as a resource for young people living in the local area by providing sea-based physical and educational activities. They hope to improve mental health, advance education, help their participants develop life skills and they want to provide recreational and leisure opportunities in the interests of social welfare. Kath elaborated “if Surf Solace can catch the fall out and help disadvantaged young people improve their confidence, self-esteem and motivation early on in their lives it will hopefully provide them with the tools they need to fulfil their potential in life, rather than continuing to be a statistic!” Surf Solace offer a six-week pilot sea-based course for up to 20 people aged 13-15 who are at risk of social exclusion or mental health difficulties. Seabirds are helping to develop and fund the Surf Solace project project so it can increase the number of people able to take part and the variety of courses over the year. On their website they say “this will enable Surf Solace to directly target the promotion of positive mental and emotional health, prevention of first episodes of mental ill health as well as prevention of relapse.”
The Seabirds venture began when three Brighton friends started to regularly swim in the sea following advice given to them from a friend researching the benefits. Catherine Brown, Ruth Delgado Adams and Kath Ferguson all found that by taking to the open sea, they became fitter, stronger and happier. They all in turn found it easier to cope with difficult life changes after swimming, surfing and spending time with other people, the more benefits they noticed. This is why they all feel that by helping vulnerable people with mental health and emotional issues to get in the sea more often, their wellbeing will improve too. Mental health effects each sufferer in different ways but they have found it helps young people with their health, happiness, growing friendships and having an increased sense of inclusion. The best way to help is to, in Kath’s words “donate to our crowdfunder- in exchange for a wonderful eco-conscious perk. Thanks entirely to the overwhelming generosity of our supporters, we have hit our initial target in the first week! As we have 21 days left to run our campaign we’ve decided to extend our target by an extra £1000 to £4000. With these extra funds we will buy an all-weather, branded gazebo which will provide warmer and more secure changing and training facilities on the beach for the children’s surf therapy.”


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