Sunday Times Article about our Around the World Adventure
A Scot who claims his early years and time in care left him suicidal until he discovered sailing is recruiting a crew of young adults from the same background for an epic global voyage.
Declan Cox, who founded Care To Sail — a non-profit social enterprise that takes young people from care on sailing trips — hopes to draw upon their “inherent resilience for the adventure of a lifetime” and sail round the world.
Today the 22-year-old, who made several attempts to end his life as a teenager, credits sailing beyond social workers, foster parents, medication and countless therapists for his salvation.
The events manager was thrown through a pane of glass by his step-father when just three years old. Although the step-father went to prison, his mother went on to marry him after his release and Declan went into care. He suffered PTSD and had behavioural problems that were difficult to treat.
Cox hopes the planned odyssey, which could tale up to three years, will be able to secure sponsorship and encourage disadvantaged young people to dream big.
He said he was traumatised after being shunted through the care system, fostered, adopted and returned again to the local authority system when he became homeless at 15.
“My mental health deteriorated dramatically resulting in a number of suicide attempts,” he said. “Medication didn’t help me. I 100% wouldn’t be here without sailing. I found the strength to change my life.”
With up to 45% of children in care in Scotland suffering from mental health problems, Cox believes positive interventions like this are timely.
Scottish figures for 2018 show that 2% of children — 14,738 — were being looked after by local authorities or on the child protection register.
“For some young people who have been in care — especially those with mental health challenges — even getting out of bed can be a big challenge,” added Cox.
“Sailing takes them out of their comfort zone and shows them that they can do things which they never believed they would be able to.”
The journey will be east to west — taking in South America, southern Africa, Australia, China and America.
Cox added: “The adventure will require a large degree of resilience. These young people will be sailing in all conditions. But people who have gone through care are naturally resilient.”
Cox said Care To Sail would actively seek young people who have been risk assessed, and judge applicants individually, regardless of past behaviour. “This isn’t an assessment to see if they qualify; it’s to see if they will benefit from the trip.”
Participants must be over 16 and connected to an organisation that supports their application. They need a “can-do attitude” and be willing to help with fundraising.
Author: Jean West