Portsmouth charity the Tall Ships Youth Trust hopes new rapid Covid test will help them once again set sail
The chief executive of a sailing charity has spoken of the devastating impact the pandemic has had on his organisation.
The Portsmouth based Tall Ships Youth Trust provides sailing opportunities for young people to help develop confidence and interpersonal skills.
Chief executive, Richard Leaman, is hopeful that a new Covid test will soon enable disadvantaged children to once again set sail.
He explained: ‘We are the only industry which has not been able to operate at all for a whole year. This is at a time when the demand for this experience is through the roof.
‘The impact of the pandemic means there are a lot of children who mentally are in a bad place and would really benefit from the experience we can provide.’
With 70 per cent of staff furloughed to cut costs, the charity is reliant on donations and has set up an appeal on it’s website to raise £200,000.
Richard said: ‘The longer this goes on the more increasingly difficult things become for us. We have so far raised £150,000 but we need to reach our £200,000 target to help see us through.’
Uncertainty still remains as to when the charity will be able to once again set sail. While children can return to education settings from Monday March 8 the earliest date in the government’s route out of lockdown for which people can potentially mix indoors with other households in a leisure setting is May 17.
However the charity hope their investment in a new Covid testing kit could pave the way to once again getting back on the water.
Richard added: ‘There is now a rapid Covid test which trials show is 98 per cent accurate. We would be able to test the children on the dockside, get a rapid result, and we could then create a Covid free bubble which would provide a way forward to get these kids out.’
The ICGene rapid Covid test is currently undergoing further trials which are being monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – the same governing body which recently approved the Pfizer and Astrazeneca vaccines.
Richard said: ‘It’s frustrating the trials are taking so long to conclude as this test has the potential to not only allow us to sail again but to also open up other parts of society and to enable us to get better at living with Covid.’