Project One was founded in London by Carmen McIlveen, an avid climber and qualified instructor.
Her motivation to qualify was to simply take a few kids from her housing estate climbing, but while working on the reception at a climbing wall, the lack of diversity within the sport became too much of an issue to ignore.
Watching BAME families enter and unfortunately leave the centre due to the rising costs of climbing tuition, she was inspired to directly address the issue of accessibility to climbing and the outdoors for the BAME community.
Indoor Climbing is the most common precursor to Rock Climbing, so it is important to create the opportunity for people to gain knowledge, set safe foundations and garner enthusiasm to take their skills to the outdoors.
It’s hard to find any statistics on the ethnicity of climbers in the UK (we’ll be working on that) however, if you ask anyone within the community, they will tell you that BAME people are massively underrepresented. It is visible in our indoor facilities and strikingly obvious when we get outdoors.
There could be many reasons for this, but here at Project One, we believe that one of the main problems is financial accessibility. Bearing in mind the amount of BAME households living in poverty in the UK is up to 35.7% compared to 17.2% for white people* it’s no wonder that there is considerable difference in who is able to spend money on extracurricular activities and hobbies.
The fact is, climbing is an expensive sport, and understandably so as it can be dangerous. Entrance fees can cost anywhere between £7 - £15pp for a single visit, Tasters usually no less than £20pp and longer courses go up into the £100’s. On top of that, you may need to rent specialist shoes and equipment, which can easily add another £10 per visit.
By providing free and subsidised access, we are confident that we can increase the amount of BAME children that are introduced to climbing and with ongoing support be able to continue enjoying the sport in the long term.
The health, developmental and social benefits of climbing for are huge, so why should BAME children miss out because of the unfortunate and unfair financial situation their parents or caregivers may be in?
Our goal is to close this gap and close it forever.