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Belfast Lough Sailability

Promoting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Sailing is one of the few sports in which able-bodied sailors and sailors with disabilities can participate on equal terms.

Belfast Lough Sailability (BLS) encourages and supports individuals (and their families) with a wide diversity of disabilities and learning difficulties and those disadvantaged by circumstance to enjoy the freedom of the open water and master the art of sailing and other water sports.

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Plain Sailing

Each year BLS facilitates over 2000 experiences afloat for approx. 400 people with a disability and an additional 1500 experiences for family members.

This is done through a variety of open ‘turn up and sail’ sessions, training programmes for competitive participants along with on-water experiences offered to other disability groups.

Freedom, Friendship &  Opportunity

Whether living with a physical, cognitive or learning disability the benefits of  sailing are immense.

Some sailors value the complete sensory experience: the noise of the sails filling with wind; the shimmering reflection of light on the water; the feel of the sea spray and the pitch and roll of the boat all of which can build confidence and stimulate communication.

Others delight in the calming and soothing effects of being one with nature admiring the seabirds and seals in the beautiful Belfast Lough.

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Sailing is the most inclusive sport…once you’re in a boat, you’re just another sailor

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Learning the Ropes

Established 20 years sgo, Belfast Lough Sailability is an RYA Accredited Sailability Centre and boasts a fleet of 17 power/sail boats and 4 kayaks.

The team can accomodate the interests of all members whether that is to ride the waves in a power boat or develop their sailing skills. BLS provides quality assured training for sailors, powerboat drivers, First Aid and maritime radio communications.

Above all, sailing promotes learning, friendships and the opportunity to build independence.

A Personal Adventure 

Thomas was first introduced to sailing with BLS as part of The Lighthouse Trust summer schemes.

Year on year he built up his confidence and competence on the water until, looking for the ultimate challenge, he participated in an intensive accredited training programme with BLS as part of his Gaisce Gold President’s Award. His steadfast commitment to the programme included a daily exercise & stretching programme to maintain balance and posture in a boat for several hours a day, learning to read weather and tidal forecasts, safety on board as well as the practical aspects of sailing as part of a team.

Thomas’ incredible achievements are now proving an inspiration to others.   

All Hands on Deck

With no paid staff, volunteers are the heartbeat of Belfast Lough Sailaibility.

BLS relies on the massive voluntary commitment of over 100 individuals who give their time to support sailors in getting on the water.  These include seasoned sailors and landlubbers – there is a role for everyone, on or off the water.

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Other partners who are making a difference

Identifying the right network of dedicated and ambitious partners has enabled us to deliver on our charitable purposes and activities. Here are just some of the life-changing projects that our grant partners have been involved in.

  • Sólás


    Initially established in 2009 as a charity supporting children and young people with a broad range of additional needs including autism and ASD.

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  • South Belfast Foodbank

    South Belfast Foodbank

    Responsible for providing over 270,000 meals to people in crisis and for the distribution of over 200 tonnes of food.

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  • Flourish NI

    Flourish NI

    Helping survivors of human trafficking not only recover from their traumatic experiences but also to regain self-belief and new skills so that they can lead safe, independent and fulfilled lives.

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