Young refugee women are learning to surf thanks to an exciting partnership between Action Foundation and the Tynemouth based surf academy Yonder.

Sally McGee, who set up Yonder, has a background in working with refugees at both British Red Cross and the Refugee Council, so she has first-hand knowledge of the benefits surfing can bring to children and young people who have suffered the trauma of leaving everything behind to start over in a new country.

She has set up a fundraiser on the crowdfunding platform Spacehive to raise £17k to ensure those from marginalised communities can access surfing and skateboarding lessons in a safe environment and it’s had a brilliant response with £12.5k already raised.

The surf sessions have already caught the attention of BBC North East and Cumbria who sent a film crew to Longsands Beach to interview Sally and Bridget Stratford MBE, who is Project Manager of Action Foundation’s Young Lives.

It was a blustery, cold April day, but a group of El Salvadoran girls weren’t put off by the choppy North Sea as they plunged in to their first ever surfing lesson.

Daniela, who’s 17, told BBC Reporter, Mark Denten, the classes were ‘amazing’ and that she wanted to ‘try new things’ when she came to the UK.

“It made me feel like at peace,” she said. “When I came to this country I wanted to try new things – and look at these new things I’ve tried.”

Bridget said: “Having an opportunity to come down and do something that’s completely different where they get to have fun, just be children and to forget about all the issues they are dealing with on a daily basis is brilliant and as soon as you get in the sea, you tend to forget everything else so it’s really nice for them.”

Sally added: “You can’t really think about anything that’s happening at home or work, life or anything that’s happening in their country at home because they are fully immersed in the nature with the wind and the waves and they have just got to look out for themselves – you can’t think about much else when you are in the sea. It’s really beautiful in that sense.”

The aim is for Yonder to provide weekly surf sessions for the young women Action Foundation refers to them. If you’d like to make a donation to Yonder’s fundraiser, you can do so here.

Young Lives is a new service from Action Foundation, launched in March, supporting children and young people from asylum seeking, refugee or migrant families in the North East. For more information visit the Young Lives page.

You can read the BBC Online story here.