People-Centred Community

As mentioned in Lightwaves 2023, here are some further responses from just a few people who visited FACT in 2022.

Kesta, Year 6 Teacher, St Judes Primary

As a school, we felt that FACT was an organisation with a strong Christian ethos which was embedded throughout their programme. The staff were incredibly kind, welcoming and supportive throughout the process, from the booking right up until the end of the trip. It was clear that the experience of the children and the schools are at the forefront of the process. The Christian element of the trip was one of the many reasons we chose to book with FACT, as it was inclusive to all children and FACT weaved the Christian underpinnings into the trip in a way that was both accessible and enjoyable for everyone. It was a brilliant time for the children, many of whom experienced brand new opportunities with the support of the FACT team. Some children who often presented as more anxious and introverted were found to have flourished in this time, and were feeling much more confident in themselves and relished this time with their friends and classmates.

Chris, Year 6 Teacher, St Mary & St Pancras Primary

The excitement and anticipation of going on board builds from very early on in Year 6. This is all down to the children from the previous year group coming back, sharing their experiences and saying what an amazing time they have had. For our children, from inner city London, visiting FACT is a breath of fresh air – both literally and figuratively. In my opinion, the most important things the children take away are the chance to be with their friends in the countryside and the opportunity to experience the brilliant activities on offer. This comes with the backdrop of a fantastic setting and outstanding members of staff who are attentive to all of the children’s needs.

Ken, Grandparent, Summer Adventure Week

My grandson attended the Multi-Activity Week at Fellowship Afloat in 2022. He is not very confident in social situations, so we were a bit hesitant when booking him a week with FACT but felt it would be the best place due to the Christian ethos. How right we were, he came home wanting to go back, asking if he can return as a volunteer when he is old enough & gained an insight into faith first hand. When asked what he had enjoyed he just said ‘Everything’. We feel what made the difference for him was that he was allowed to be himself with no peer pressure, phone or expectations. He said the staff were great and so was the food, especially the cakes so a huge thank you to all the staff who made his week so special for him.

John, Captain, 1st Billericay Boys’ Brigade

2022 was our first year at FACT with our group of young people. We had in the past run our own program apart from specific activity sessions, but in talking with FACT it became clear we would have a lot more support, including to run the spiritual program which is such an important part of camp for us. The daily devotions and testimonies of the team were a real highlight of our weekend. To have the same leaders that were running our activity sessions, eating with us, cooking for us and serving us in so many ways to share the reality of their journeys of faith with us was so impactful for our group.

The weekend gave some of our older boys the opportunity to lead the younger boys in their group and learn from the FACT team how to be positive role models. All in all we had a great weekend, and we look forward to a return visit in 2023.

Laura, Parent, RYA Young Sailors

My daughter says:

“The food was epic- especially the lasagne and garlic bread. They were SO good”
“It was great having my friend from Scotland come and learn to sail with me”
“Isaac was a great teacher and we had great fun, especially when the boat was tilting”
We chose FACT because we love the ethos of doing fun activities being led by people who love the Lord. This comes through in the way the instructors look after the children and their patience with them. FACT is a unique location on the East Coast and we love the beauty of it – it really speaks of God’s creative character.

Liz, Youth Leader, St John’s Church

I have always been impressed with, not only the Centre, but all the staff including instructors, cooks, and admin staff. We keep returning because I know my group will be in safe hands, that the instructors will be great role models and all the activities are of the highest standard possible – making our visits safe and enjoyable.

They show the love of God in the way they behave and interact with the group. I love the fact that they join us for meals and take an interest in those they are sharing a table with. It’s so refreshing to the young people to see how the instructors live out their faith and are still fun!!!

A child with Downs Syndrome had a fantastic time especially on the crate stack, which really helped to encourage her mum, one of our leaders. She did more than her mum thought possible and has grown so much as a result. The instructors were amazing with her. Thank you.

One of the older lads, who rarely smiles, smiled all weekend. Four children on one evening just sat around a table in the saloon laughing and joking. I’ve never seen those four so animated and having a wonderful time. Even the 8 years olds threw themselves into everything. It was such a pleasure for me and the leaders to bring this group knowing they would be in safe hands. Thank you once again.

Jon, Parent, RYA Young Sailors

It’s a big deal sending your firstborn away for the first time. Having worked and volunteered at FACT for many years, I knew it was the perfect place for Eliza. I knew on walking down the path she would be lovingly met and carried along on a busy schedule and cared for in a complete way; not just physically with great food and safe adventures but mentally with care and attention and spiritually with the love and ethos of the community.

When we collected Eliza, she said that it was ‘the best week of her life’. Months later if I mention Fellowship Afloat she lights up. Eliza said she was nervous walking down the path; I asked her how long that lasted…’about 1 minute’. She was introduced to ‘the water’ and has got the bug but what was important I think was she loved the atmosphere of inclusivity. She was able to feel part of the ‘gang’ of staff, volunteers and other children straight away. Any insecurities or worries weren’t allowed to waste energy or inhibit time for fun. Eliza walked back down the path a little bit ‘bigger’ than when she arrived (not just because of the cake).

The strong current that underlies all of this is the Christian ethos of loving your neighbour. For the week on Trinity everyone is your neighbour and this is palpable. God’s love is powerfully reflected in the team and environment. I think this makes FACT special, it’s more than just good customer service or client care, it’s love that shines through. Love in the way the centre and facilities are developed, cared for and used but also love for all the children and people who visit.

Eliza has since been on another residential, also with a nice group and in a beautiful place. She had a great time there too, but it’s Fellowship Afloat that she’s clamouring to go back to and that we will be excited to send her back to.

Richard, Headteacher, Harlands Primary

There is something really special about the way that you are always looked after during the residential. Some other residential trips you can be made to feel that you are just another school which is why I always choose Fellowship Afloat. All staff work really hard to look after all the children and all the staff. They take time to get to know each and every person they have on board. This makes all children and staff feel valued and helps them to learn how to value others. It’s really clear to see how the faith of staff members unifies them as a team. This in turn helps children and teachers to understand more about Christianity and a living faith. It has always been a fantastic opportunity to get to know children and to see a different side to them. Fellowship Afloat gives teachers and children a chance to stop, take time to relax and reflect on who we are. I have taken part in many different residential trips over the last 20 years but children always tell me that this residential trip lets them become more independent, value each other and leaves them with memories that will last a lifetime. After the trip, children become more independent and respectful to each other largely due to the shared experience of being supported and being able to support each other together.

Bonnie, Parent, Summer Adventure Week

We chose FACT for our daughter’s camp after extensive research because we loved FACT’s ethos of combining adventure activities while cultivating the need for a personal relationship with God which is nurtured in community while on board.

The activity week had a huge impact on our daughter in so many ways. It was her first time away from home for more than a night and although nervous and incredibly shy it encouraged her to make friends and work as part of a team in a safe environment while doing what she loves. She has grown in confidence in social situations and her sailing has greatly improved along with her fearlessness for trying new things and exploring new places.

FACT is about combining community, friendship, team work and adventure with exploring God’s love and cultivating a personal relationship with Him. They are learning valuable life lessons in a safe environment that will equip them in the future.

For us this was such a good experience for our daughter – she wants to return next summer with her sister and that is the best indicator we could ask for of an incredible week. We can see that the impact of the residential extends far further then one week but equips them with foundational truths and confidence as they grow.

Anna, Volunteer & Former Staff

I can’t remember a definitive day or moment when I felt drawn to FACT. It has always been there, part of my life whether near or far. Growing up in the village, it gave me a sense of purpose at a young age. Something to get stuck into when there wasn’t much else for young people. At times FACT has been the only church community present in my life, an invisible but present support network. It is such a unique and special place. I felt supported and guided as a youngster not just in sailing but in my faith journey. I’ve met some incredible people and have so many fun and happy memories! I can see the impact FACT has had in my life in serving and helping others. Being part of the community helped grow my confidence, communication skills and often helped nudge my young faith along.

Lisa, Parent, Summer Adventure Week

We chose FACT over anywhere else…easiest decision ever…there wasn’t any hesitation when the opportunity arose for Tehmina to attend MA1 this summer, our family connections go back many years. Tehmina didn’t know anyone but by the end of the week had made some good friends who she still occasionally keeps in touch with. It’s given her a confidence boost and having to do chores and challenges was good too. She is keen to return (as is her brother, Kwame) to another MA week and to volunteer. Volunteering is something that changed my life and I will be encouraging both children to actively take part when they’re old enough.

Ollie, Volunteer

When I had first heard about FACT it seemed like the perfect place for me to spend time volunteering and taking part in lots of activities related to things I am interested in and I was excited to start right away. Since then FACT has been an incredible influence on my life and has helped me overcome challenges and make new friends both outside and within the centre. The Christian atmosphere has always had an incredibly positive influence on me and has helped me learn about and be aware of God’s presence in our lives. FACT has also always taught me something new about either practical or people skills and I always leave the ship more knowledgeable than I arrived. Volunteering overall has helped me in all aspects of my life including at school, at home and with my friends and I always have a wonderful time on the ship and enjoy sharing my experiences with family and friends.

Lucy, Assistant Headteacher, Manford Primary

Year 6 pupils from Manford Primary School visited FACT for the first time this September. The experience we had as staff and pupils will last in our memories for a lifetime. The group of children come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, some religious, some not, with a wide range of differing abilities and some with specific needs. As soon as we arrived we felt like part of a family, all the staff were welcoming and put everyone’s needs at the centre of all they did, nothing was too much trouble.

The experience enabled staff and pupils to reflect on life and look at things in a more reflective way, it was a welcome change to be encouraged to look after yourself as well as the children. The location of the ship also made us feel that we were in a bubble away from the busy lives that we all lead.

I want to thank everyone at FACT for an unforgettable experience and we look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Liz & Ray, Overall Leaders, Falcon Afloat

CPAS Falcon Afloat has been using FACT for nearly 15 years. We are delighted to be a part of the FACT family for a week of the year. As our team has grown and developed, so has FACT, but there is one thing that we have in common that keeps us coming back – our unifying love for God, His love for us and the young people who are welcomed on board. As Falcon Afloat we have a specific aim to teach the Gospel and give the young people we meet a break from their home lives. One of the phrases that repeats throughout the week is ‘God loves you just as you are’ – it’s not about what your family says about you, or what your teachers say about you, but that the Bible says that God loves who you are. FACT will always be a place of encounter for us – God, hopes, fears and love. Time on Trinity is about learning, sharing and eating together as a family would, knowing that although we’ll be tired by the end of the week, we go home with full hearts.

Will, Year 6 Teacher, Tendring Primary

FACT offer a unique experience for our children. It is not every day that our children get to experience staying on a lightship. The facilities and activities are fantastic and we are very well catered for. FACT offer a personal service and all staff are thoroughly approachable. The range of activities that the children partake in are vast and the staff that lead them are very knowledgable about the delivery of the activities as well as the health and safety of them.

After the trip, the children are a lot more confident in themselves. Though hard to quantify, it can be seen from the way that they conduct themselves. Also, it’s the lasting legacy that this trip has on the children. Older siblings pass on stories of their time here as do children from one year group to the next. Parents of past students often comment the trip as a highlight of the year.

Jamie, Parent, RYA Young Sailors

My kids have been going to Fellowship Afloat for several years and they always seem to come back thoroughly exhausted having had an amazing time! Over the years we’ve come to know FACT as a place that offers top quality, well organised activities in a friendly and supporting environment. It hasn’t been unusual for the children to go not knowing anyone else there but they’re always made to feel welcome valued and supported and quickly make friends. These things alone make FACT a great place for kids to go during the holidays for a few days away but FACT is also a place founded in the Christian faith. This really does place FACT a cut above, as they not only get to do lots of awesome activities, but they also get to hear something about God’s amazing love for them. Thank you FACT!!