The Ellen Gee raised £2,536 from the crowd to offer their passengers an alternative ‘therapy’ to mainstream health services, unlocking an extra £2,464 from the BrumSmiles Community Fund along the way.


St Paul’s Community Development Trust obtained The Ellen Gee in 2010, and she has since become a crucial part of their health and wellbeing services. By taking passengers on a journey along the waterways, The Ellen Gee experience has proved to have a truly calming experience, offering an escape from the usual pressures that daily life brings. With room for up to 12 on board at any one time, the small sized groups also provide the perfect opportunity for individual attention and gentle group interaction.


Darren Cannan, volunteer and Ellen Gee supporter said, “I remember quite clearly one of my first times on the boat was when the boat had to be turned round in a wharf in central Birmingham.  I’d never been on a boat at this point and I was quite scared during the manoeuvre that they had to make but actually, that was part of the learning curve of being on a boat.”


With a history of helping hundreds of young people in Birmingham to reduce stress and depression since 2010, the team behind The Ellen Gee turned to the crowd to raise the funds needed to refurbish internally and expand their array of services to continue supporting families to their local waterways.


Through their crowdfund, £5,000 was raised for the internal refurbishment of The Ellen Gee, including £2,464 from Birmingham City Council’s BrumSmiles Community Fund.


Available to projects that will support the health and wellbeing of young people in Birmingham, the BrumSmiles Community Fund was able to take The Ellen Glee crowdfund that extra mile, doubling the amount raised from the crowd.


Dave Cusack, CEO at St Paul’s Community Development Trust, said, “The money raised helped to fund the internal refurbishment of the Ellen Gee. Without the funds raise from the crowd and the extra funding that we received from BrumSmiles, the work couldn’t have been done and we are very grateful for that.”


St Paul’s want to be able to support the most vulnerable members of the community and their hope is that the Ellen Glee will offer a huge array of opportunities to the local community including:


  • The learning of new skills through potential volunteering opportunities on the boat, helping to develop confidence and potentially employment.
  • An outdoor educational experience for school children, particularly for those pupils who have difficulty coping in a traditional classroom or educational environment.
  • The chance to build social connections and meet people, helping to relieve stress, anxiety and reduce depression.
  • Healthier and happier experiences to reduce the likelihood of developing long term, debilitating illnesses and therefore reducing the demand on the need for medical support.
  • The opportunity for many of the families that they work with to go beyond their neighbourhood.


We asked CEO Dave Cusack for his top crowdfunding tip. His suggestion? “Keep it simple, use social media a lot during campaign, thank supporters and get friends, colleagues to spread the word.”


So what are you waiting for? If you have a community-based project based in Birmingham that will support the health and wellbeing of young people in the area, then check out to see if you are eligible for extra funding!