Member Showcase: Oarsome Chance Foundation

By John Gillard, Principal, Oarsome Chance Foundation

This blog highlights some of the most innovative and different Sport for Development programmes across the UK. In the latest edition we catch up with John Gillard from Oarsome Chance Foundation.


What does Oarsome Chance Foundation do?

Oarsome Chance Foundation (OCF) works with everybody regardless of age or ability. We facilitate and support boat building and joinery workshops – building the boats that are used in our youth coastal rowing project.


Young people in rowing boat, oars held aloft

We work with disengaged, disadvantaged 9-19 year olds from  Portsmouth, Havant, Hampshire and beyond. We are an alternative provider of curricular learning for young people not in full-time education, excluded or at risk of exclusion. We also provide marine related workshop training, carpentry, boat building, indoor rowing and on-the-water engagement.


Our projects promote and encourage values and life-skills, such as self-discipline, tolerance and teamwork, which enhances personal esteem and improves education and employability.


We also run extracurricular rowing training and events, after-schools club and weekend sessions, including training for and travelling to youth coastal rowing events.  We have our first social enterprise business up-cycling used sails and assorted donated material into bags, hats and practically anything, enabling young people to learn many different facets of business, manufacture, profit-and-loss and sustainability.


What makes your organisation different?

Young people wash the inside of a rowing boatWe have a unique engagement link between an accessible and engaging community sporting activity and vocational education and employability benefit.  We also partner with many fantastic organisations, supporting them to create funded, self-managing hubs. Our model is very simple and easy to replicate, with the training and resource we provide and/or assist with, ensuring the model is expandable.


What are your plans for the future?

We will increase on and off-the-water participation at our new Gosport hub ‘The Maritime Workshop’ in partnership with St Vincent’s Further Education college. It’s an amazing facility right in the heart of one of our many catchment areas, giving us access to multiple activities at one hub and easy access to the water.


We will also increase our partnership work with primary and secondary schools, community centres and others, helping train their staff to deliver the student training of the Youth Coastal Rowing programme with our Sported Light Touch support. The students will also build the second boat of our own design over a curricular school year for their use during the summer of 2018. We will expand our hugely popular ‘row shows’. We will also support many other community rowing hubs and work hard to improve our sustainability.


For more information about Oarsome Chance Foundation, please visit: