We love working with Sea-Changers and involving ourselves in so many creative awe inspiring projects. I was lucky enough to chat with Sea-Changers’ founders, Rachel and Helen and ask them a quick few questions, and here's how it went...
So what do Sea-Changers do?
Our mission is to harness our nation’s collective love for the sea, by empowering individuals and organisations to make a tangible difference, and supporting marine conservation projects to drive positive change. In essence, Sea-Changers gives grants to projects protecting our marine life and ecosystems around the UK. We fund our programmes through partnerships, like the one with Liga.
What inspired you to start this charity ?
In 2000, we learned to scuba dive and the experience sparked a profound passion within us. Over time we noticed a distressing degradation of the underwater environment. Inspired by Streetsmart, a grant-giving charity aiding local homelessness projects, we wondered why a similar approach couldn't be applied to marine conservation. And when the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill intensified our sense of helplessness, even though we are based in a completely landlocked location in the Midlands, we recognised the need to take a stand and initiate change, and so Sea-Changers was born.
What specific programmes or services does the charity offer, and how do they support your mission?
Sea-Changers gives grants to community projects and charities working for marine conservation. Projects can apply to our Main Grants Fund. They are evaluated by our Grants Panel to assess them against our criteria including their conservation impact, community impact and value for money. Many of the projects we have funded have gone on to grow exponentially, based on the seed-funding that our small grant provided. For example Richard Unsworth from Project Seagrass explained to us:
“We received a small grant from Sea-Changers and I think it was actually our very first official grant and that helped develop seagrass monitoring work up in North Wales, that we still continue to this day. It helped foster the development of the world’s biggest seagrass citizen science programme that has now had thousands of data uploads into it.”
Project Seagrass is now an organisation with an annual income of over £800,000.
What is your favourite success?
The Polzeath Marine Group is one of our all-time favorite success stories! They've shown us the incredible impact of small community initiatives for ocean conservation. It started with a simple idea: they applied to us for a grant to pay towards a water bottle refill station to reduce plastic waste on their beautiful beach. But guess what? It sparked something bigger. Based on their idea, we developed and launched the Bunzl Coastal Fountain Fund. Now, Sea-Changers has funded water bottle refill stations in 30 coastal locations all around the UK. It's like a domino effect, inspiring communities to make a real difference in protecting our oceans.
TIME is probably the biggest barrier for us because Sea-Changers is almost entirely volunteer-run. We really try hard to put as much time as we can into it whilst also managing our professional careers. As we are growing, this challenge gets harder every year, but it is very satisfying to achieve more as we develop.
What’s your favourite thing about working with people like us?
Working with companies like Liga and the many projects we fund brings together remarkable individuals who share a passion for saving our planet. The best part is that these relationships sustain our inspiration. Keeping positive can be challenging with the seemingly constant stream of negative news, especially concerning the environment. Having like-minded people by your side gives you hope. It’s great to inspire one another.
What do you want people to know if they could know one thing?
No action or donation is too small. A lot of people feel overwhelmed when looking at environmental challenges. But if enough people do their bit, together we can make a difference. Together, we can harness our love for the sea, make a difference, and ensure a sustainable future for our magnificent oceans. That’s what it means to be a Sea-Changer!