Unit3Sixty, a new skate park, is a place for children and young people in Dudley to let off steam, to explore their creativity and be active in a safe, supportive and inspiring environment.
Gavin Pardoe, managing director of Unit3Sixty, shares his experience of starting up a skate park with a social mission:
I dreamed up the skate park three years ago. Being active in the community as a serving firefighter, I recognised there was an opportunity to create a place for children and young people in Dudley to let off steam, to explore their creativity and be active in a safe, supportive and inspiring environment. When Stourbridge’s only skate park was closed to make way for regeneration in the area, there was a void. Skaters and BMX-ers had nowhere to go and the nearest facility was 25 miles away.
Fast forward to 2015 and Unit3Sixty is a thriving social enterprise with the whole community, including local businesses and organisations, backing the venture. We’re working with the emergency services in getting children and young people off the streets, particularly in the darker months. We’re hoping this will help reduce antisocial behaviour and, crucially, traffic-related accidents and deaths associated with younger people.
Funding came from a number of sources including Sport England, Dudley Council, as well as a number of grants. It didn’t come easy: being a startup not-for-profit venture, we were considered a big risk. Charity Bank saw our potential and provided a loan: an additional boost that made Unit3Sixty what it is today. We’re working to generate a sustainable income and our business model is evolving as we learn about the needs of the young people who come here.
Approximately 1,500 young people are using the skate park each week. Police report that anti-social behaviour has already decreased and local businesses say they have noticed a marked reduction in the number of young people skating near their premises. The future is exciting and we’re already thinking about expansion.
"When Stourbridge’s only skate park was closed there was a void. Fast forward to 2015 and Unit3Sixty is a thriving social enterprise."
- Gavin Pardoe, managing director, Unit3Sixty