In May 2011, two UK scuba divers set up a charity to raise funds for UK marine-conservation projects – and now Sea-Changers plans to celebrate its 10th anniversary by holding a “virtual festival”.
Founders Helen Webb and Rachel Lopata still run the organisation on a voluntary basis, supported by a board of trustees and a network of volunteers. Their online festival is set to cover a week from Wednesday 23-30 June.
Sea-Changers establishes fund-raising partnerships with commercial bodies that serve consumers who access, enjoy or travel by sea. Grants, each typically of up to £1200, are allocated twice a year through an open application programme, and more than 200 have been issued over the decade to help fund activities ranging from beach-cleaning and marine-species conservation to citizen-science and public-awareness projects.
“Small sums of money distributed around the UK’s seas and shores can catalyse new ideas, seed practical action and reach new audiences,” say Webb and Lopata. And some of the partnerships have generated substantial sums of money – Hebridean Island Cruises and its customers, for example, have contributed almost £45,000 over the past decade.
The charity’s festival of virtual events aims to spotlight existing projects, with participants including the Shark Trust, National Lobster Hatchery, Cornwall Seal Research Group and Project Seagrass.