The Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will be supporting free skateboard lessons in Nottingham, for children and women and girls of all ages, along with a skate-photography course for young people to develop creative industry and wider employability skills inspired by their love of skateboarding.
Skate Nottingham CIC, a social enterprise founded by lifelong skaters to help put skateboarding at the centre of Nottingham’s development, has received almost £10,000 of National Lottery funding from the Big Lottery Fund. This will fund two 6-week terms of skate lessons for beginners (aged 8+) and women & girls (all ages and abilities), with trained and qualified coaches recruited from young people in the local skate community. The grant will also enable purchase of 10 skateboards and full sets of safety equipment, enabling learners to participate in the free lessons whatever their income or background, and will also support independent retailers by enabling all equipment to be purchased locally at a fair market price. Finally, the grant will fund a free, week-long skate photography course for local 14-24 year olds, mentored by industry experts and culminating in a public exhibition in a city centre gallery – enabling the young people to showcase their work to employers in Nottingham’s fast growing creative sector, the local media and college and university tutors, increasing their confidence, enabling them to build portfolios and contacts and, most importantly, helping them pursue careers in which they are passionate.
This award follows Skate Nottingham’s delivery with Nottingham City Council and The Renewal Trust of the ParkLives programme, in which 51 children and adults, 36 of which were female, gave skateboarding a go over the five Sundays in July 2017. Female coaches then went on to establish Nottingham’s first ‘girls’ only’ skate nights at Flo, Nottingham’s indoor skatepark – monthly events that continue to attract more than 50 skaters each time. The team also delivered half-term skate sessions in October in St Ann’s and Sneinton with Epic Partners and the Greenway Centre, again engaging more than 50 children and young people. Awards for All provides an incredible opportunity to scale this activity up, increasing local participation in skateboarding as a healthy, creative activity that encourages a strong sense of community, and reducing barriers to participation for people from diverse groups, particularly from disadvantaged parts of Nottingham.
Nottingham, as one of the original homes of UK skateboarding (an Olympic sport for the first time in Tokyo 2020), has a lively, intergenerational skateboard community. On most weekends and evenings, several hundred young people and adults skate together in the city’s estate of public skateparks, including the award-winning King Edward Park in one of the most economically disadvantaged wards in the UK. Nottingham’s skaters produce an impressive level of photographic, artistic and video output. This is celebrated through regular film nights put on by Skate Nottingham and in exhibitions from local artists and photographers, including Tom Quigley – who was recently featured in the international documentary series ‘We Can Fly’. This enables local independent businesses to thrive, including Forty Two skateshop in the city centre, who in turn sponsor a large team of local talent.
On the project supported by the Big Lottery Fun: “The aim is to inspire as many people to take it up and for them to see the mass cultural and creative side that skateboarding has to offer, that brings people together on a global scale. I think the National Lottery grant we’ve received will do tremendous amounts for the Nottingham community, not only for the children but also the parents and residents that live here. We’re just one big family and that’s an incredible feeling and movement to be a part of, I can’t wait to see what we do next.”
But the city of Nottingham still faces significant wider challenges. Despite having the biggest economy in the East Midlands with two large universities, it has one of the lowest levels of graduate retention in the UK, has significantly high rates of unemployment, has pockets of ill-health and low levels of physical activity, and has the lowest level of gross household income of any UK sub-region, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.
The aim of the Big Lottery Fund’s grant is to unlock the benefits of Nottingham’s skate scene and learn from places like Malmö, Sweden, where young people are re-engaged in education through their love of skateboarding, which is at the centre of Malmö’s inclusive regeneration strategy. Skate Nottingham will work closely with Nottingham Trent University’s Centre for Children, Young People and Families (NCCYPF) to investigate innovative approaches to evaluate the impact of the Awards for All grant, and will continue to work closely with Nottingham City Council, both to put Nottingham on the international skateboarding map in the run up to the 2020 Olympics and to unlock this potential to help address wider challenges facing the city’s young population.