AN innovative Falmouth-based charity which offers health education on the water, is planning to expand after securing almost £500,000 of Lottery funding.

Sea Sanctuary works primarily with young people to improve their mental health and well-being, using classic yachts as the backdrop for various workshops and the therapeutically-based education it offers.

The charity has received £446,887 from the Big Lottery Fund which will enable it to continue its work and deliver longer-term support to its clients. The service is suitable for all ages and has supported teenagers and others over the age of 65, but its unique approach has proven particularly useful when supporting young people.

Professionally accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Community Management and linked to the Royal Yachting Association, Sea Sanctuary will used its grant to extend its existing service and also offer participants the chance to gain formal RYA qualifications and various boating skills such as boat restoration. A drop-in service which has been successfully piloted will also be continued.

The charity is preparing for the arrival of its new boat, Grace, which is currently undergoing structural work in Bristol. It will be used as a “floating platform” from where the charity will deliver its services.

The Big Lottery grant has given Sea Sanctuary a real boost. Its chief executive, Joseph Sabien, said: “In effect, we can now move into rehabilitation. No longer having to rely on shorter interventions, we can support people over a longer period of time.

“Furthermore, we can now offer our client-sailors formal qualifications in addition to our existing programme of mental health support. This is fantastic news.”