The Vitamin Sea Project
Providing mindful experiences of the ocean and waterways
The Project Aims
The Vitamin Sea Project facilitates in-person experience of our ocean and waterways predominantly to those who may not otherwise have the chance. One in five children in the UK, an island nation, has never been to the sea. We hope to change that.
We provide mindful experiences, based around the pillars of Ocean Literacy, where we allow our beneficiaries to understand what it feels like for them personally to be in, on or by the sea. We help them to see for themselves what is out of sight and out of mind – both the incredible wildlife and nature of our ocean and waterways, and the threats they face. We aim to help forge a connection to blue spaces, and an appreciation of what the ocean means to them.
People Protect What They Love
People protect what they love. But they can only love what they know.
With the help of our network of amazing volunteers around the country, making the most of their individual skills and passions, we hope to inspire a sense of awe and wonder at our natural world.
We also educate and empower our beneficiaries to learn more about the ocean and its wildlife, and to become stewards of them, both during Vitamin Sea Project sessions, and through our Vitamin Sea TV and Ocean Citizens resources.
The Mental Health Benefits of being around blue spaces
The mental health benefits of being on, in or by water have been increasingly documented over the last few years, both anecdotally and academically. We want to help more people discover the mental health benefits that the water can bring, and empower people to spend more time in nature outside of our sessions. We help to connect our beneficiaries to local groups and organisations and work hard to create connections with other community organisations.
Our Vitamin Sea Project activities range from snorkelling to rockpooling, stand-up paddleboarding to beach workshops. We work with various community groups, including but not limited to Young Carers, school groups (especially from deprived areas) and Refugees settling into an area.
All of our sessions are slightly different from location to location, as we aim to make them most relevant and useful to both the beneficiaries of that community and the area of coast, ocean or waterway we engage with.
However all our sessions have a few things in common! Safe, mindful, enjoyable and respectful in-person experience of the water with truly amazing facilitators; experiencing something new, and reflecting on how it feels to be in that environment. We hope that all our beneficiaries come away from sessions with a new appreciation of the ocean, at least a few things they have learned, and an understanding of how they can play even just a small part of looking after it. We aim for them to feel inspired, educated and empowered.
How does The Vitamin Sea Project create personal connections to the water?
We believe that to form a connection with our incredible blue spaces, there’s no substitute for actually spending time there. We help to arrange and facilitate this through experiences such as rock-pooling, stand up paddelboarding, surfing and swimming.
Is it just the ocean, or waterways too?
Both! Even if we live in-land, rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs connect us to the ocean, and are important parts of the global ocean ecosystems. We take beneficiaries to the sea, but we also help facilitate connection to local blue spaces in land so that our beneficiaries can have continued benefit close to home.
Who is eligible to benefit from these experiences?
We are specifically aiming to help those who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity, or means, to partake in the activities and experiences we create. We work with young people, particularly the one in five children in the UK who has never been to the sea, and adults. We connect with in-land communities who feel little personal connection to nature, as well as coastal groups who benefit from assistance in experiencing and learning about the ocean on their doorstep.
Who delivers the sessions?
Sessions are facilitated by our staff, trustees, volunteers and delivery partners around the UK. These are often established SUP or snorkel schools or outdoor activity providers, many of whom generously volunteer their time and resources. We believe that collaboration, especially within communities, is so important, and partner with other community groups and charities or organisations in each region we operate in.
What happens in the sessions?
We want our beneficiaries to be given the opportunity to experience the water in a way that is individually beneficial. We never tell anyone how they should feel there, but rather give them the tools to reflect themselves on how if feels to be in blue spaces. During our sessions we provide educational discussions and workshops about the specific waterway or patch of ocean they are experiencing, and the global ocean ecosystems at large. We work with the pillars of Ocean Literacy, and sew the seeds for ocean advocacy.
What happens after the sessions?
All participants are provided with follow up materials and information, empowering them to learn more about the ocean, connect with their local community, and find ways to continue to spend time in nature in their locality. In some areas, we have regular sessions for the same groups.
How can I be involved?
We are so grateful to our team of volunteers. If you run a water-based activity centre, are a qualified instructor, or would like to be involved in any other capacity, please get in touch!
If you would like to take part in one of our sessions, or would like to nominate or refer somebody or a group who you think would benefit, please do get in touch.
Vitamin Sea Project Locations
We operate, or have run projects, in the following locations, and are building more locations for 2023 and beyond in Scotland, Wales and England.
One of our flagship projects, our volunteers at Chelmarsh Reservoir and SUP Shropshire facilitate a day at the reservoir for local school children from deprived city areas. The day at the reservoir involves SUP, nature walks, mental health workshops and discussions around the adjacent River Severn’s role in connecting us to the ocean.
We run snorkelling trips to the beautiful Lundy Island with Devon Young Carers, for these amazing young people to see for themselves the biodiversity in the UK’s first Marine Protected Areas. We have also made a short film about Lundy Island to help educate and inspire further.
North Devon Ukranian Community
In 2022 we ran regular stand-up paddleboarding sessions with Ukranian refugees recently settled in North Devon. It was a joy to help form a stronger community and connections to their local waterways. The feedback from these sessions were so positive that in 2023 we are running a bespoke programme over the summer to deepen these connections and continue to help our beneficiaries find solace on the water.
Isle of Arran
In 2021, we took a group of inner city school children from Glasgow to the Isle of Arran for the first time, to see for themselves what is underwater in Scotland’s first No Take Zone. It was an incredibly eye-opening trip for them, and us! This project featured in the series Scotland: Ocean Nation which is available to watch on STV Player. We hope to return to Arran in 2023.
New for 2023 – we will be collaborating with North Sands Watersports and local schools to develop a Peer-to-peer learning programme, assisting with education and communication training so that the school children we work with can in turn inspire and educate neighbouring schools.
We ran a very successful day in 2022 of stand-up paddleboarding, beach cleaning and rockpooling with two secondary school groups in Plymouth, with our friends at South West SUP in Royal William Yard and the Rockpool Project. We hope to make this a more regular feature!