Our club is unique as far as we know in that it was set up to tackle well researched social issues emanating from the multiple deprivation in Wansbeck that in itself led to the Wansbeck Initiative. The club attempts to:
- Improve quality of life for people in Wansbeck and to make it a vibrant place to live, work and visit.
- Support people into jobs, training, education and
- Support and grow business and the local economy
- Improving education and life opportunities for children and young people
- Improving health
- Making sure we have safe and strong communities which are also clean and green
- Sustainable youth engagement
- Proactively works to give young people a voice
- Engage with organizations delivering services to young people in Wansbeck
and works hard to achieve these ambitions. As a club with no staff and no support from the local authority Wansbeck Paddle Sports Club have to achieve these ambitions in small steps.
The club is based in the Ashington Sea Cadets centre at the side of the River Wansbeck. This is in the Wansbeck Riverside Park. The generosity of the Sea Cadets means that we have meeting, changing and storage facilities. The home section is between the barrage and Sheepwash Weir giving a stretch of 4 kilometres of flat water except when the Wansbeck is in spate. Because this flatwater is within the contours of the natural river there are changes of view, shelter from and exposure to wind from any direction. The location of kit, teaching rooms and flat water in close proximity are essential for the running of introductory courses and BCU/UKCC Level 1 & 2 Coaching Certificates and Wansbeck Paddle Sports Club are one of very few facilities able to offer this combination.
The impetus for the club came from two sources. Wansbeck Youth, part of Wansbeck Initiative and Newbiggin Sailing Club’s Sport England project to develop watersports in Wansbeck. Wansbeck Initiative, was the district's independent Local Strategic Partnership from 2000 to March 2009. It brought together a wide range of organisations and communities active in Wansbeck to improve quality of life for people in Wansbeck and to make it a vibrant place to live, work and visit. It was an ambitious partnership and sought to build on the strengths of partners and communities, joining forces to improve services and develop new opportunities. The top priority for the partnership was to support people into jobs, training, education and to support and grow business and the local economy. Other key areas were improving education and life opportunities for children and young people, improving health and making sure we have safe and strong communities which are also clean and green. To do the Wansbeck Initiative worked at community level as well as through a range of themed multi-agency partnerships. One of the many programmes that the Initiative set up was Wansbeck Youth. Wansbeck Youth was established to create a sustainable and joined up model for youth engagement and provision in Wansbeck and to engage with organisations delivering services to young people in Wansbeck. Newbiggin Sailing Club received Sport England funding for a water activities project set up to encourage participation in sailing, kayaking, canoeing and windsurfing. The project aims to remove perceived barriers to involvement in water sports, runs courses and activity days for groups and help to develop local clubs to encourage regular participation. The project is open to all and has an emphasis on encouraging people to get involved in the activities at every level.
Wansbeck Youth Programme was managed by Tom Thomas and following discussion with Simon Benson Tom used his paddling skills as a volunteer with the Sailing club to set up some coach training and qualification courses for staff and then an autumn long intensive paddle sports skills programme. Tom brought into the area a fleet of Open Canoes on a trailer and the Sailing Club used Sport England funds to purchase a fleet of Masters. This led to the creation of Wansbeck Paddle Sports Club.