Rebecca is an artist and community arts worker based in Hastings. She views the sea as a place of healing and restoration where everyone is equal.
There is a lot of poverty in Hastings and I think it’s something like 35% of all children in Hastings live in poverty. There are still lots of issues down here – people living on the edges of society, a lot of hidden homeless and rough sleepers. I’ve experienced what it’s like when you’re living amongst people with wealth – it’s not great.
But the thing about Hastings is that you can get away from that, especially when you’re on the beach. There isn’t that class distinction because, you know, everybody’s there doing the same thing. So, it’s good in that respect for people to feel they don’t have to worry about that. Especially for kids, because they are not having to worry about what trainers they’ve got on – they’re all just focused on the beach.
We’ve been here since my daughter was five and she’s been into kayaking and rock-pooling – it’s a complete free playground. If you’re stuck for something to do you can go to the beach at low tide and go rock-pooling or at high tide go swimming, jumping off the harbour arm.
What tipped my decision to come here was an idyllic childhood – running on a beach covered in mud and all of that. And that’s exactly what my daughter did. It’s been fantastic for her.
It gives children great confidence to be able to swim and be active and physical and be able to go kayaking, swimming and jumping. And doing dangerous things such as jumping off, learning the dangers, learning about the safety, being safe and keeping safe, but also having that element of risk always. So, yes, it’s been really important for me to have my daughter grow up in that environment.
As much as possible, when I walk to work, I walk along the coast. In the summer months, I go to watch the moon sparkling across the sea, down at Rock-a-Nore. After a long day at work and you’ve had a swim it’s like a remedy. Rock-a-Nore has these massive imposing cliffs.
You swim out to sea and look back at the view of these cliffs which, if the sun is shining, looks epic. And you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere because you can’t really sense the town. You’ve just got this wide expanse of sea. And that’s why I like to go to the end because when you’re further towards town you can see the cars and the road and the buildings but if you’re way down that end then it’s pretty special.