On 26th March 2019, London Youth Rowing celebrated the achievements of 50 young people completing the first stage of our Breaking Barriers programme.

It was an inspiring Tuesday evening after school when over 100 attendees – including students, teachers, parents, mentors, LYR partners and staff – all gathered at the Museum of London Docklands to congratulate Year 10 pupils from St Angela’s Ursuline School (Newham), Lister Community School (Newham), St Michael’s College (Southwark), Harris Academy Bermondsey (Southwark) and Hammersmith Academy (Hammersmith & Fulham).

The success of the Break In 2018-19 programme was demonstrated by the enthusiasm and positivity of all attendees at the graduation event. Besrat, a student from St Michaels’ College, commented:

I had a really fun time! The food was amazing, the venue was really cool, and my parents really enjoyed it, including speaking to the mentors and people from other schools. De-Winton (his peer) did an amazing job giving his speech. Meeting new people, getting certificates, it felt like it was really part of a community.

Thank you to our corporate partners CVB/Tideway East, BMB/Tideway West, PwC and the Port of London Authority (who generously organised the event’s venue) for their ongoing support for this unique and impactful programme.

Yvette Jarvis, a teacher from St Angela’s Ursuline School, who has worked with LYR for 4 years said:

The care and attention to detail given to the organisation of Breaking Barriers has provided our students with an exceptional opportunity.  The three-way relationship between LYR, the PLA and St. Angela’s has seen our student’s develop a range of skills, including communication, teamwork and presentation skills.  Each week the students have been eager to attend their rowing and mentoring sessions and I think that is testament to the quality of the programme.

Here’s a snapshot of the Break In programme this year:

Overall the participant demographic was a higher proportion of girls (79%) due to 3 all-female cohorts. The majority of the participants (79%) were from a BAME background (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic).

Feedback surveys completed at the end of the programme evidenced the positive impact achieved:

  • Comparing themselves before to after the programme:
    • 96% of students reported positive responses to the 12 questions
  • Overall average scores increased by 29%, with the top improvements reported in:
    • ‘Breaking Barriers life skills’ (scores up by 55%)
    • ‘Communicating with people you don’t know’ (up by 41%)
    • ‘Equipped for the workplace’ (up by 38%)
    • ‘Overall confidence’ (up by 38%)
  • 98% of students & 100% of Mentors and Teachers would recommend the Breaking Barriers programme to others

Breaking Barriers is an LYR 'life skills' programme that aims to enable motivated youth rowers to flourish as they transition from school into the wider world.

The programme recognises that the soft skills required to be a successful rower, such as time management, communication and teamwork, are also necessary for success in the classroom and in the workplace.

Break In students learn to row and are linked with corporate mentors at weekly workshops in order to broaden aspirations, develop life skills and provide future pathways. Graduates are offered the opportunity to apply for work experience placements with the corporate partners.

The programme is about to go into its sixth year, with new schools and partners set to join Break In, whilst current and past graduates are now able to continue on to Break Through employability workshops and Break Out personal mentoring:

Feeling inspired?

LYR's seeking additional corporate partners for Breaking Barriers. If your organisation is looking to improve its outreach and social impact in London, please contact [email protected]. Your support and expertise could enable a new cohort of students to realise their potential!

Also, if you’re keen to get involved on an individual basis, then LYR's currently recruiting mentors for the 2019-20 Break Out programme. Volunteer your time to imparting knowledge and expertise that could change young people’s lives. Again, please contact [email protected] for more information.