Completed Grant: Report from Whitby Hidden Impairments Support and Help (WHISH)

In June 2019 the Education and Charity Committree approved an award to Whitby Hidden Impairments Support and Help (WHISH) who have submitted the following report on how the grant was used:

Firstly, thank you once again for extending this grant and enabling us to carry out the work for which it was intended. COVID-19 was an unexpected occurrence for us all, and in those unprecedented times, your understanding and flexibility was most appreciated.

WHISH received £1000 to provide accessible boat trips and sailing for our members who have hidden impairments and their families. During the summers of 2020 and 2021 we took fourteen trips on the WetWheels Yorkshire boat- unfortunately, sailing was not safe under lockdown restrictions. This is a specially adapted catamaran which is able to accommodate both wheelchairs and disability pushchairs.

Due to the outdoor nature of the activity and the size of the boat, this activity was safe for our more vulnerable members to attend as lockdown lifted. Initially members took part with their already formed support bubbles, but as restrictions eased attendance increased. In total, 101 individuals were able to go on a trip, making this one of our most popular activities of the summer.

The summer was a turning point for our members. From our telephone and digital support sessions over lockdown, it became apparent that our members’ mental health was deteriorating. Increased anxieties due to high vulnerabilities and lack of statutory support were the primary concerns for WHISH families. High levels of uncertainty and fear for such an extensive period of time took its toll on both children and parents, especially those who rely on structure and order to relieve their anxieties.

For our families, these trips were a lifeline. Being able to get out onto the water and experience the beauty of the North Sea (and for those lucky enough, the pod of bottlenose dolphins) helped bring families together and ease some of the hardships caused by lockdown. Relationships which had become strained by constant close contact benefitted from spending quality time together outside of the home. Children with high anxiety levels were able to let off steam in a safe way, and those who had struggled with low mood had something to look forward to for the first time in a long while. Here are a few quotes from WHISH families describing what the trips meant to them:

“My little boy really enjoyed the trip. Pete is fantastic with the children and really made my little boy feel valued. He was so excited to drive the boat and it really helped his confidence to have Pete praise him. He came away saying he was the best boat driver by far!”

“The time Pete spent chatting and reassuring the girls helped them to feel really special. They’ve completely turned around from being really fearful around water to going on three separate boat trips! It’s had such a massive positive impact on our whole lives.”

“The WetWheels trip was the highlight of my boys’ year. After lockdown, it was an opportunity to have fun in a safe environment away from crowds and covid worries and experience something new.”

With the funding and the flexibility of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, we managed to support many more families than we anticipated. Throughout a time of bleakness, these experiences gave many families hope and support for the future. We thank you for your continued support throughout these trying times, and we hope to work with you again in the future. For your records, we have attached some photos with the consent of the families involved, which you are welcome to use.

Thank you once more,

Emma Locker