On Sunday 24th November, four brave individuals from the Hampshire Youth Project booked onto a Royal Naval Reserves (RNR) Experience Day on Whale Island in Portsmouth. Lieutenant Commander Martin Heighway, RNR Recruiting Officer, took us through the day and a huge thanks go to him and his team for making our young people feel as equally included as the 60 other potential Reserves who joined us on the day. The visit to Whale Island involved going onboard a Falklands-serving ship, HMS Bristol. Since 1993, she has been converted into a training and accommodation ship, hosting up to 17,000 visitors per year, giving our young people the closest experience to a sea-going experience without the ship ever leaving port.
Onboard, our four brave individuals took part in knot-tying on the top deck, they also climbed up and down the precarious ladders and even had the opportunity to dress in a wet suit that all seamen are required to wear in case of an emergency. Of course, two individuals from our group were the first to put their hands up to volunteer to be dressed in the wetsuits in front of the large group of ‘wannabe’ Naval Reserves! Every activity our group took part in was generously accommodating for each of the young people’s disability requirements.
Throughout the day, we had talks from the RNR Diving Branch which offered an opportunity for our young people to wear the heavy diver’s equipment which all diving personnel are expected to wear whilst potentially defusing bombs. Other talks included detailed information on uniforms, careers within the Royal Navy and positive testimonials from serving Reserve personnel. Did you know The Royal Navy are trained firefighters too?
Our young people who joined us on the day escaped lightly, the Project Leader of the Hampshire Youth Project thought they would be asked to run the required 1½ miles to get the stamp of approval to join the RN Reserves but no such luck on this occasion. Sadly, only one of the four young people showed a genuine interest to receive further information on how to join the RN Reserves following the experience day, however this is really good news for the charity’s constant quest to find meaningful employment for our young people as they enter the adult world.
With a light lunch provided, all our group got the opportunity to discuss any queries they had with both long term serving and new Naval Reservist recruits, even our deputy Sophie sparked unintended interest from this event. So, watch this space as there may be an update if any of our young people or indeed our very own Sophie signs up! It may be worth mentioning that if you decide to join the RNR, you are joining the Navy, and hence face the full range of potential deployments in case of national need.
For further information on how to join, please follow the links below:
If you or your young person is not entirely set on applying and starting the recruitment process yet, please follow the link below and follow the Reserves base on Whale Island by joining their Facebook page.
Photos from the day can be found below in our picture gallery.