In 2011 Campus’ two founders, a youth worker and social worker, set out to use skateboarding to engage with children and young people. They now run two skateparks in Bristol, have thousands of members and generate profits which are invested into the future of their facilities and youth work.
Facts & Figures
- Type of project: conversion of a disused swimming pool into an indoor skatepark with a reception area, skate shop and café
- Type of organisation behind the project: a Community Interest Company – Transition Skate CIC
- Use of facilities: skateboarding and scootering
- Location: Whitchurch Road, Bristol, BS13 7RW
- Funding: Overall cost: £300,000. Sport England contribution: £75,000. Other significant funding: Big Issue business loan £80,000, West of England Growth Fund £25,000, Social Investment Business Fund £8,000, Campus’ own funds £10,000 (£3,000 of which from crowdfunding).
Key events and milestones
|2007||Initial Saturday youth club delivery|
|2011||Rented skate park on a college art site was formed|
|2012||Application for asset transfer of the disused swimming pool|
|2013||Campus opens first permanent venue – a wooden-ramped skatepark in Bristol|
|July 2015||Campus opens its second venue, The Campus Pool skatepark and shop|
|November 2016||The café opens|
Campus started with its two directors, Andre Seidel and Tim Nokes, providing portable skate ramps at a Saturday youth club they ran for Bristol Council. They could see there was a need for some alternative youth work and positive results from trial sessions run at a Pupil Referral Unit showed what skateboarding could achieve.
As well serving to support their youth work, Andre and Tim knew there was also a strong business case for increasing the availability of skateboarding facilities in their area. Bristol’s one existing skatepark at the time operated predominantly as a night club, and was failing to meet local demand.
In 2011, Campus ran its first stand-alone skatepark out of a rented art-space in Bristol. They soon found that the building, which they described as a ‘squat-like’ warehouse, wasn’t suited to its purpose.
Acquiring the pool
Andre and Tim first enquired about the disused swimming pool in 2012 after seeing it being advertised on the council's website. At the same time a local councillor, Richard Eddy, was gathering a 10,000-strong petition to stop the community from losing use of the site and to mobilise local people to redevelop it into something else.
The Campus directors undertook an extensive two-year community consultation. It was largely thanks to this, support from the local authority and Councillor Eddy’s advice and backing, that Campus’ community asset transfer and planning application were successful.
Campus Pool opened in July 2015, having used £80,000 from Big Issue Invest to convert the building. Subsequently, funding from us made it possible to add a community café. This has "drastically improved the business" and income from the cafe now exceeds that from the skatepark and shop.
Campus have kept many of the features of the old swimming pool, making for a quirky and original space.
Since adding a café in a second phase of development at Campus, the income that it raises has outstripped that of the park and shop. All of the income raised by Campus is essential to their model, of being sustainable and unreliant on grant funding.
Inside the pool
“It's different from team sports. It's about accomplishment and bettering yourself but not for the sake of trophies or medals. It teaches people to laugh at and make a fool of themselves as everybody will fall over and they will just have to deal with that,” - Tim Nokes, Campus director
As well as offering girls-only sessions, work has been done with the local media to attract more women to the space.
A community café
“We used to have a Costa – that got shut down. At the skatepark café you can go with children. It’s lush, the atmosphere’s great and there’s a toddler takeover so I’ll come to that. This is the kind of thing we wanted. Love the area and this was the only missing thing,” - a local mum and user of the café.
Campus want to develop more space for community use and more income streams to boost sustainability. To achieve this, they intend to develop meeting rooms and office space which will be self-funding and include dual use of some areas.
Campus' three take-home tips
- Be entrepreneurial; Campus’ directors have been forced to be entrepreneurial and take risks, "and be comfortable taking them", such as taking on the additional building
- Develop volunteering; creating their own volunteering opportunities rather than relying upon external agencies such as educational providers is crucial to their desire to maintain autonomy
- Be flexible; initially, Campus replicated the swimming pool’s opening hours. They soon realised that this didn’t suit a skatepark and have now extended opening.
Our take on the project
Through our funding we aim to nurture projects which address the five health, social and economic outcomes set out in the Government’s Sporting Future strategy. We feel that Campus strongly supports two of these outcomes in particular; individual development and social & community development.
Campus’ approach prioritises personal outcomes over sports participation. As one of the directors, Tim Nokes, says:
“It's different from team sports. It's about accomplishment and bettering yourself, but not for the sake of trophies or medals. It teaches people to laugh at and make a fool of themselves as everybody will fall over and they will just have to deal with that.”
The skatepark provides 200 free annual memberships to young people from local deprived areas, also reducing their entry free from £5 to £3. And the café is highly-valued by the wider community, offering parents and toddlers a space to meet and enjoy coffee and a friendly atmosphere.