Wild water swimming is having its moment, and those who do it are keen to share the benefits, both physical and mental. But their surfing brethren have known about the joy and impact on wellbeing of taking the plunge into ‘blue space’ for years.

In Scarborough, young people struggling with their mental health are finding out just how beneficial being in the sea can be through a charity called The Wave Project.

Run locally by North Yorkshire Co-ordinator Matt Jones and head of operations Siobhán Swift, it’s part of a UK-wide charity founded in 2010 in Newquay by its current chief exec, Joe Taylor.

'It was an idea he had to investigate further the benefits of being in and around blue space, especially for children,' explains Matt. “We work with youngsters aged mostly between eight and 18 years, sometimes older, using what we call surf therapy.

Great British Life: Matt takes the plunge in the sea at Scarborough (c) Tony BartholomewMatt takes the plunge in the sea at Scarborough (c) Tony Bartholomew

'Young people come to us via referrals from partners such as the NHS, CAMHS and local schools, particularly looking at youngsters with mental health barriers.'

Over the last 13 years, The Wave Project has established itself in 15 locations across the UK.

'We’re also rolling out our adaptive centres – Scarborough is one, the second of three. We take youngsters with physical additional needs surfing on modified equipment. What we’re basically aiming to do, in a nutshell, is improve their lives.'

Matt is keen to point out that while the term ‘surf therapy’ might sound a little hipster, it’s backed up by solid science and professional analysis.

Great British Life: Scarborough is a surfer's paradise any time of the year. (c) Tony BartholomewScarborough is a surfer's paradise any time of the year. (c) Tony Bartholomew

'Each child is paired up with one of our awesome volunteers, who are trained to assist them on their journey. We evaluate the six-week process with a series of questions at week one and again at the end, comparing the differences.'

Matt is a lifelong surfer and keen advocate for the benefits of the sport.

'I spent most of my early years in the southwest and on the south coast, and from an early age I watched other people do it – I had the bug very early! I started surfing around the age of eight or nine.

'I always had an affinity with the sea, always wanted to be around and in it. As soon as I could I was away travelling and following the breaks.

'I came to Scarborough in 1998 to study at what was the Scarborough campus of Hull Uni, and ended up in the RNLI. After that, I was self-employed for a few years, running safety training in schools, and then this job came up in 2020 – an interesting year! – and I couldn’t not go for it, really: it was right up my street!

Great British Life: Surfer Dave Gillies entering the North Bay, Scarborough. (c) Tony BartholomewSurfer Dave Gillies entering the North Bay, Scarborough. (c) Tony Bartholomew

'We made a lot of headway in that time, even with Covid – we were deemed a support service, so we were able to operate again within a couple of months. We did a lot of work during that time with youngsters.'

And Matt’s favourite surf spots? 'I surf in the North Bay, it’s near where I live, but Cayton Bay is probably my favourite.'

If you’d like to find our more about The Wave Project’s inspiring work, go to waveproject.co.uk

And while you’re there, check out their shop for some seriously gorgeous and affordable gifts – Christmas is coming, after all!

For more information on what else is on across the Yorkshire Coast #placeofsurprise and the North York Moors this month, and to find a huge variety of fabulous accommodation, please visit discoveryorkshirecoast.com or call the Tourism Bureau on 01723 383636.