Plymouth Programme 2022
The reclaim the sea pilot programme took place along the beautiful coasts of Devon and Cornwall in the summer of 2022. It was a collaborative project between Reclaim the Sea, Groundswell England and Devon and Cornwall refugee support. Funded by the national lottery, the program ran for 8 weeks, providing swim, SUP and surf lessons for 8 migrant/displaced/refugee women living in Plymouth.
The program commenced with an introduction to the ocean in the Artillery tower sea pool in Plymouth. the focus was on gaining water confidence, We spent an hour and a half learning to float and swim.
“ I can confidently go in and float, thank you I will go sign up for swimming”
Our second week saw us travel to the Wave in Bristol. Many participants had never surfed before, yet everyone was incredibly enthusiastic. It was an extremely rewarding experience.
“ It's the first time i learn to be surfing. It's already for me amazing and very enjoyable"
On the third Saturday we were back in the sea pool, building on skills learnt during the last two sessions. For one of our participants, this was her first time in open sea since arriving in the UK, and in fact the first time in her life moving out of her depth in water.
“I never ever swim in the sea but that’s why I think my feelings change. After finished class I’m sad because the class finished but me make happy and peaceful”
Weeks four and five were SUP sessions. We found that paddle board provided a site of safety within the water, and in some instances, facilitated more freedom then when swimming.
“I was excited every time when I came here and when I leave here I am happy every time”
Week six saw us take to the waves at Whitsand bay, surfing on the open ocean. We spent a day on the beach, surfing, picnicking, and swimming. With a one-to-one volunteer participant ratio it was an incredibly rewarding day.
“I really really enjoyed this experience because its my first time in the waves or in the sea and it was a very very good experience”
Our last two weeks were spent paddleboarding, We ended the programme with a full turn out and a true sense of friendship between the group.
“when I came here I wasn’t happy, but now I am happy. I found many friends here, I see many kind people here. They help me for swimming, for paddle boarding and for surfing and its very nice."