CatZero yacht scheme helping unemployed youngsters
A UNIQUE programme set up nearly four years ago to get young people back into employment is moving to the south bank.
The CatZero programme is a 12-week course for people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance that includes sailing on a 72ft ocean racing yacht.
The programme, which operates from Hull Marina, has helped 288 young people get into training, education and employment.
And now it is coming to Grimsby.
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The partners involved in bringing it to the town met at 6.30am on a summer's morning to get a taste of what young people taking the course will go through.
Representatives from JobCentre Plus, the Young People's Support Service and the Grimsby Havelock Rotary Club prepared for the day ahead.
Captain Danny Watson said: "We are now spreading our wings to Grimsby and Immingham by working with JobCentre Plus and everything you experience is what the young people will have to do at the end of their 12-week course.
"Young people get a lot out of the experiences we provide and we are very glad to be expanding the course.
"Everything that you do on the yacht can be transferred into real-life working situations.
"We deal with stress, time keeping and other essential skills and it is called an alternative working environment and it really works.
"People open up when they are on the boat and we learn about the underlying issues that they have, which can be anything from housing and drugs to sexual health.
"Addressing these issues afterwards is what makes the programme work."
The yacht, which is also called CatZero, has a 30m mast and can be crewed by a minimum of four people and a maximum of 18.
Without any scrapes or collisions, CatZero reached the open waters of the Humber Estuary successfully at 9.10am.
After tucking into bacon sandwiches and tea as a reward, delivery officer Sean Cahill explained the importance of the project.
"The CatZero programme is aimed at 16 to 24-year-olds who are claiming Jobseekers' Allowance," he said.
"We are part funded by partners on the south bank, but the majority is coming from JobCentre Plus.
"The young people involved do not work for us, we work with them.
"There are jobs in Grimsby and Immingham, but the young people in the area are not accessing them and we find out why and address the underlying issues that are there.
"They have to earn the right to come on the course and we gradually build up discipline from week one.
"Employment gives people life chances and this entire experience is targeted at encouraging young people to look for work and be proactive."
Mr Cahill said that during the course the 14 people taking part would be put in interview situations, be given the chance to create a CV, work on team building, gain qualifications, manage budgets, learn about healthy eating as well as various other essential activities.
He said: "Each week there is a one-to-one review and this is where a lot of the problems come to the surface.
"Once this happens we can address them and those involved can start moving on.
"After the 12 weeks it does get harder but we prepare everyone for this.
"We encourage anybody who wants to to come back whenever they want because we will always help them.
"It is all about breaking down barriers and building a success story."
Once the course has finished, there is a move-on phase so that people are not left without support if they need it.
Being on CatZero brings everyone onto the same level and this was evident while sailing in the Humber.
Getting the sails out and adjusting them for the wind was a team effort that worked everyone in a physical and also a communicational way.
One of the volunteers is Luke Williams, 20, who has just finished the course.
"I saw CatZero advertised at the JobCentre," he said. "I was looking for work at the time and now I want to join the Navy as a navigator, so it was a good step up for me.
"The course took me out of my comfort zone, but I managed to get through.
"It has boosted my confidence and helped me sort out my CV. I have been on other courses but none have engaged me like this one."
At about 2.50pm, Danny announced that there would be a man overboard drill.
There was instant camaraderie to save the "man", in reality a plastic hat tied to an empty bottle.
Stacey Blyth volunteered to be rescuer and was hauled over the side of the yacht, attached by a rope.
Stacey, the lead administrator from Young People's Support Service, said: "Preparing for every eventuality is as important in real life as much as it is at sea.
"Young people could really learn a lot on the programme."
The CatZero programme has been brought to the area by JobCentre Plus and without its backing, the scheme would not be possible.
Those on the course will still be able to claim Jobseekers' Allowance and the programme is only accessible through the JobCentre Plus.
Employer adviser Ben Wood said: "Team building and communication are key here, it is hard work but it also teaches good values, which is what employers look for."
Student May Woods, 17, of Theddlethorpe, said: "It has been different from anything I have ever done before. I can see how young people will get a lot out of the course.
"You have to work together to make it all happen, but it is well worth going for it."
The CatZero programme officially launched in Grimsby this week and the scheme will set sail from Immingham in September.