As the team who work daily to place BBC staff as volunteers with charity partners, we know all too well that the "V" word can sometimes be misunderstood. Occasionally seen as a dusty, worthy word, it can conjure images of coffee mornings and bric-a-brac stalls. So its not always as easy as you might think to get people to embrace their inner-volunteer. That's why the Connect & Create team try hard to make our opportunities as vibrant and exciting as possible, and today's post is to tell you about one such project.

One day last summer Paul Corcoran of Connect & Create team beamed as he put forward his idea for a new project with our charity partner, Fairbridge. All we knew was that it involved a ship! As Paul outlined his idea, he explained that the charity, who work to give life skills to disadvantaged young people across the UK, had an exciting way of teaching the young people about team-work by placing them as crew for a week on a 92 foot tall ship, The Spirit of Fairbridge" moored off the coast of Oban.

Its not unusual for some the young people who qualify for this experience to turn it down, as the idea of crewing a tall ship is so far outside their realm of their experience and fear of the unknown can put them off. So Paul's idea was to make them a film for all at Fairbridge to see, tracking the experience of some of the young people aboard a 7-day sail in October.

We had no trouble finding the inner-volunteer among BBC staff for this one. Inundated with offers, Paul selected four staff who would benefit by bringing the learnings of the experience back into their day job. Ed Horne, who applied to gain skills to enhance his video edit career, said "The rain, cold and wind could not have been worse to film onboard. It was a brilliant opportunity to prepare us for what we may have to deal with on future programmes".

"The Spirit" is the jewel in the crown of Fairbridge, bringing together hundreds of disadvantaged young people each year to learn to sail. The challenge for the BBC volunteers was to shoot and edit a film that told the story of young people living onboard and sailing for the first time, in the hope that the film might help persuade other young people to take the challenge.

The final film is now being sent to all Fairbridge centres across the UK where it will be seen by over 5000 young people in the first year. The skipper of The Spirit, Mike Strang, was delighted with the film "This is such a valuable resource for staff and centres to use. We have never had anything like this that captures everything positive about the whole experience of life on board Spirit. It will help to inspire so many young people to challenge themselves in new and exciting ways".

Hopefully it may also help others to see that volunteering can be one of the most thrilling and meaningful ways of connecting with other people.

Glynn Ryland is the Manager of BBC Connect & Create

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    on 27 Mar 2011 12:31

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