Carmen McIlveen is climber, coach and qualified instructor. Her motivation to coach 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 became her motivation to start Project One and open the doors to a wider BAME community.
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.
“There's absolutely a great sense of community. Some of my best friends I've met through climbing and I think they'll be friends for life."
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.
"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.”
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.