The devastating impact of the Covid-19 virus is touching the lives of us all in so many different and difficult ways.

As countries across the world lock down their people, social isolation becomes a harsh and brutal reality.

At a time when the need for global compassion and connection has rarely been greater, one must not forget the millions of people around the world who were already socially isolated before Covid-19.

For them the new restrictions, rightly imposed, are even more debilitating than ever before. For many, compassionate connection with family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours has broken down or totally ceased.

Here at the Jubilee Sailing Trust, we have learned a great deal about social isolation and the desperate need for society to continually foster a true spirit of inclusion.

Since 1978 with the great public support, we have provided life changing, inclusive ocean voyages on our tall ships to over 50,000 people experiencing isolation through disability, mental health issues, acute health conditions, poverty and loneliness.

Today, our tall ship SV Tenacious is sailing from the Azores back to the UK. She was due to be heading from the Caribbean into the Mediterranean for spring and summer voyages and crucial fundraising events in Greece, Cyprus, Monaco and Cadiz before my trustees and I made the simple decision to bring the ship home. The health and safety of those on board will always be our prime concern.

The loss of revenue is devastating but the voyage continues to be one where special friendships between people for all walks of life have been formed through a common and shared purpose. Those on board, unlike most of us, are living in a socially inclusive bubble of their own, safe, well and healthy.

Imagine any other circumstances where eight 16 year olds from Sail Training Ireland get to spend 35 days on a tall ship with five brave people from our great friends at Help for Heroes as well as others from all walks of life.

The fact that they are able to be enjoying this extraordinary life-changing, shared connection is thanks to the generosity of so many people who support us.

The acute fall out from the virus means that charities like us across the world are now fighting for survival.

The Jubilee Sailing Trust receives no Government funding and truthfully needs to raise £2.5m a year to keep delivering our mission so that many people like those on the current voyage and Kate and her son Ryan from a previous one can experience life changing experiences.

Kate’s words capture the essence of what we do and why we will, with your help, fight on.

“ As a parent carer my life has been saturated with grab rails, bathboards and social care assessments to help me cope.

I’ve felt worn down in the past by people assessing us and telling us how to live better – how to be safe. It is important to feel safe but it’s also important to feel alive which is what the JST gave to me.

I learnt a lot about myself on this trip. It’s not a boat ride, it’s a working holiday. I realised how much I enjoy and need to feel part of a team.

I met many people on the trip who have attended voyages for years, and first-timers like us. There were people with severe walking disabilities climbing to the crow’s nest – it was an honour to get to know some of these people.

And I was so surprised when one of the JST crew casually asked: “Kate can you just take the helm?” Erm, what?!?

You mean you want me to be in the driving seat holding that great big wheel thing and driving it round the Atlantic ocean while people sleep in their beds below? Are you insane?!

But I did indeed take the helm. And a lot more besides.

I climbed the rigging (did I mention I’m scared of heights?). I filled in the log book. I did rope knots. I heaved and sweated. I learnt the lingo (see above). I went on watch with yellow binoculars (seeing turtles, dolphins and shooting stars). I did a 24-hour mess duty (assisting with meal prep and tidy up after – in other words shed loads of pot washing (which incidentally I usually hate but listening and singing along to to 80s music and working together made it enjoyable).

And I think it’s this that creates a family like atmosphere on board. I have no doubt that as human beings, this is what most of us need.

The JST were very supportive from the onset and really went above and beyond to make sure we were okay as a family. Going on holiday can be a challenge as a carer and because of this we have sometimes isolated ourselves from organised group holidays, which is a shame because it’s nice to do the collective thing.

JST got Ryan involved in tasks and proactively sought and heeded my advice. Ryan had jobs to do similar to when he’s at home. Taking the cup box to the galley, stacking clean cups, taking tea towels to Henry’s corner, wiping the whiteboard each morning. This was essential to his and our well-being because feeling needed is so important. Being on a scrap heap and spoon fed is not so good for the soul. “

You can read more from those who have sailed with us here.

We need your help to provide the funding and support to continue to deliver our unique mission and provide vital awareness of the crucial need to enhance social inclusion and improve the lives of people for generations to come.