Project One was founded in London by Carmen McIlveen, climber, coach 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 glaringly obvious.
Watching 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.
After a couple of false starts, in June 2020 the opportunity to spend some time focusing on creating ways to increase diversity arose and Project One was formed.
Indoor Climbing is the most common precursor to Rock Climbing, which is known to benefit both physical and mental health in a variety of ways*, so it is imperative that we create opportunities for people to gain knowledge, set safe foundations and garner enthusiasm to take their skills to the outdoors in an affordable way.
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.
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.
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 not only BAME people, but those living in other underrepresented or impoverished communities, that are introduced to climbing and with ongoing support be able to continue enjoying the sport in the long term.
Maybe best known for his First Ascent of the UK’s hardest boulder problem, not only does he have fingers of steel, but he’s also just finished a degree in Mathematics and launched his very own magazine as a keen writer! We’re sure there’s plenty we can learn from Aidan so we’re over the moon to have such a multitalented individual on the team to keep us all inspired.
Although based in London, it’s often hard to keep track of just where she is..Travelling around the world for climbing, competitions and photoshoots alike, Eugenie's a wonderful example to those of us juggling multiple jobs and passions in life! We’re looking forward to trying to keep up with her busy life and hopefully we’ll find out some of the secrets to her success along the way.