Manchester skaters battle to fund new shopping centre skatepark

A group of Manchester skateboarders are fighting to create an accessible and inclusive skatepark in a shopping centre.

Skate Manchester, a non-profit community interest company, have located an ex-retail space in Stretford Mall for the project.

The space is set to be leased for free, but the collective will have to obtain £3,200 to cover insurance and other costs.

Despite setting up a GoFundMe in March 2021, which raised over £1000, donations have plateaued and the group are now looking to reinvigorate their fundraising campaign.

Patrick Crich, 27, one of the directors of Skate Manchester, said: “We had a big level of support at the start, where we saw a large number of donations, and then, as expected, as the weeks go on, we’re not getting the daily reach we did.

“It’s hard to keep people engaged. Zoom calls for meetings are not the most engaging way to communicate with each other and have a discussion.

“Now we are coming out of lockdown, we are looking at doing more physical fundraising events. When it’s all safe and well, we’ll be hosting raffles, and doing some more traditional fundraising.”

Skate Manchester were set up in September 2019 after the founding members attended Pushing Boarders in Malmö, Sweden.

Pushing Boarders was a four day event which combined skate exhibitions with panel discussions around skateboarding culture, activism, and education.

Patrick said: “I don’t think we should ever rest on any laurels of the skate community, thinking we are completely accepting and democratic.

“We’re taking a lead from the likes of Skate Southampton, who are doing really great things with educational programs and seeing how skateboarding can help with that.”

Skate Manchester hope to use the Stretford Mall space to create a free, accessible, and inclusive skatepark.

Patrick said: “Skateparks, for whatever reasons, have to generate income and revenue, so they set fees for entry which can be a barrier for a lot of skaters.

“We’re hoping to have sessions for different age groups and levels of skating. Also, sessions for communities that are underrepresented in the wider skate community, such as LGBTQ+ sessions and women’s sessions.

“As a group, our overall goals are to develop the scene, get more people involved, and improve access to space - whether it is public space or designated skate spaces like skateparks.”

It is hoped the new skatepark will also benefit the local people of Stretford.

Patrick said: “We want to make sure we are also servicing the Stretford and the Trafford area, as much as skaters.

“Skaters are going to come to the space for sure, but we want to make sure people in Stretford and Trafford see it as a new, welcoming space for them too.”

Skate Manchester’s campaign comes amid high demand for an accessible indoor skatepark in Manchester.

Ben Thompson, 27, a skateboarder who lives in Manchester, said: “In a city that tries to keep skateboarding at bay at all costs - spaces like this will help to keep skating free and available to new kids starting out.”

Patrick said: “It primarily came out of necessity, with Manchester being such a wet city. Lots of rain and as skaters understanding there is just a lack of places we can go in the winter months for free

“Plus, you find a street spot, you get a month or two to skate it, and then someone will clock on and put skate stoppers down.

“The need for a free indoor space is a constant.”

You can learn more about Skate Manchester here or donate to the Stretford Community Skate Space GoFundMe here.

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