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Community sailing comes to heart of city with launch of Sail Birmingham

by Karenza Morton 26 Mar 18:00 GMT
Setting the Sail Birmingham scene on Edgbaston Reservoir © RYA

Getting active outdoors is proven to positively impact health and mental wellbeing and an ambitious new community sailing project at Edgbaston Reservoir is breaking down barriers so anyone in Birmingham and the surrounding areas can get active afloat.

Sail Birmingham, launched by Midland Sailing Club, is putting community sailing at the heart of the city by making the water accessible to everyone of any age, background and ability. By opening up a new programme of tailor-made and open-access activities for all, Sail Birmingham means even people who might never have thought they could get on the water can now enjoy all the wellbeing benefits of being active outdoors.

Ladywood MP, Shabana Mahmood, is amongst those to have welcomed the initiative, while Cllr Albert Bore, Birmingham City Council, Ladywood Ward, described the green and peaceful Edgbaston Reservoir location as "a hidden gem at the heart of Birmingham."

Keith Wraight, Sail Birmingham Manager, explains: "There are perceptions of sailing that stops some people from even thinking about it as something they could do, it isn't even on their radars. But Sail Birmingham is about showing everyone that actually sailing is open to them and it can have a hugely positive impact on their lives.

"Sailing is a low impact activity that can be enjoyed by all the family and it's great for meeting people and making new friends. By learning new skills people get a sense of challenge and achievement, while sailing is proven to help young people develop key life skills that can positively shape their futures and even create new career opportunities. On the water everyone is equal and spending time outdoors is an integral part of everyone's wellbeing."

Amongst the wide-ranging opportunities Sail Birmingham is offering are Silver Sailing for people who want to stay active into retirement, Sailability for disabled people, Women on the Water, RYA OnBoard for schools and youth organisations, and holiday schemes where young people can learn to sail and progress through a structured scheme. In addition, current sailors can just turn up to 'Pay and Play' and after-work and other group sessions are open for schools, charities and other organisations to book. The club also continues to run its popular learn to sail courses and taster sessions.

Sail Birmingham is the result of partnerships between Midland SC and sailing's governing body, the RYA, RYA Sailability - the national programme enabling disabled people to go sailing - the Canal and River Trust and Birmingham City Council.

Midland SC was established in 1894 and has a long history at Edgbaston Reservoir. Last year the club taught 83 new adults and young people to sail, but an increasing demand for people wishing to get afloat led to Sail Birmingham's creation. Visit sailbirmingham.com for more information or like Sail Birmingham on Facebook.

Quotes:

Shabana Mahmood: "I congratulate Midland SC for launching Sail Birmingham. I know how committed they are to introducing people to sailing and particularly passionate about training young people. Their vision of a wide range of leisure sailing opportunities and a comprehensive training programme alongside school holiday activities will give lots of people, young and old, the opportunity to enjoy sailing in a welcoming and friendly environment."

Cllr Sharon Thompson, Birmingham City Council, North Edgbaston Ward and Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods: "It's great to see our parks and reservoirs being used by local sports clubs and making the most of the wonderful resources we have in Birmingham. It's fantastic to see the boats out on Edgbaston Reservoir and I hope lots of local residents take the opportunity to Sail Birmingham."

Adnan Saif, West Midlands Regional Director for the Canal and River Trust: "The Canal and River Trust is delighted with the new initiative of Sail Birmingham at Edgbaston Reservoir. One of our key aims is to encourage more people to make use of canals and reservoirs across the region and Sail Birmingham will help achieve this."

Gareth Brookes, RYA Regional Development Officer: "I am really excited we have a new sailing centre in the heart of Birmingham to enable more people to try and start sailing. The ethos of Sail Birmingham - to encourage and enable people from all backgrounds and abilities to try sailing - is one that I support wholeheartedly. This new centre has already started to work with us on Sailability and we have plans to get more people with a disability afloat."

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