Building a skatepark was a childhood dream of mine. Never did I (Jacob Skinner) expect it to come true but with hard work and dedication from me, my partner and those around us here we are… a lease for the empty supermarket in Portsmouth City Centre.
Photo Credit: @iampixpac
Who Are We?
The Undercover Skatepark Project proudly presents Pitt St. We are a community-based not for profit project that has been working hard to build a state-of-the-art wheeled sports and leisure facility that can be used all year round, rain or shine. We are looking for £30k from our Crowdfunder campaign to put towards our target of £135k to build the skatepark. We chose the name as the area has previously been the home of Pitt St Gymnastics centre and in 1910 the Royal Navy built it as Pitt St Baths and Gymnasium when the armed services were worried about the physical health of the new recruits. We thought it would be a nice touch to keep the name and remember the activity centres that have been there previously.
Our area on the UK’s South Coast is in need of an undercover/indoor skatepark. The British weather does no favours for those wanting to shred it on a set of wheels! Our location is in an area that is one of the 10% most disadvantaged areas in the UK. This building is perfect for what we are trying to achieve as a large amount of the infrastructure is ready to go and the floor is a dream. This is set to be more than just a skatepark; It is to be a creative community hub. Phase one will incorporate a café, skate shop, roller rink, ramp room and leisure space. Phase two which will come to fruition later in 2022 will incorporate creative workshops, gallery space, community activity room, a gym and recording studio.
I have skated for over 18 years meeting many people in the industry along the way. I have now been coaching as part of the skate academy for 3 years and look forward to its expansion. I have had quite a journey so far and at every point my skateboard has been there with me. I met Jenna over 4 years ago where she told me to scrap my normal job (which I hated) and follow my dreams! Jenna ran her own community volunteer project for a number of years and has built a solid relationship with various groups and individuals around the city over the past 10 years. I feel with our combined experience we can collectively make this project a huge success. I’ve worked with Jenna, Portsmouth City Council and a number of local businesses for 4 years to get us here. We have run many smaller events to raise awareness and funds for the skatepark. Several gigs have been held, raffles, Shred the Red and The Skate Escape (which was a 54-mile skate from Brighton to Southsea) to name a few. The community have really pulled together.
When we first began this project, it was to build a skatepark under Rudmore roundabout fly over (M275). To start the process, we put out a petition to the people of Portsmouth, it was well received. This alone proved to us and our council there is a massive want and need for this in our community. The petition was started in November 2017. Various sites have been earmarked then withdrawn before getting to our current venue.
Phase one to be open in Spring 2022. Portsmouth’s first indoor skatepark will have something for everyone weather you are grass roots or an elite athlete in all genres of wheeled sports. That’s not where it ends though, one third of the building is being left open which will be used for roller discos but will also double up as a shared space for other activities, making this a “skate of the art” wheeled sport facility of the future!
Portsmouth has a huge skate community with many enjoying skateboarding, inline, roller boots, scooters and BMX. We will be fully inclusive to all and will encourage patience, perseverance, courtesies, sportsmanship and we are a great place to build friendships.
We will support community members and inspire them to achieve more through workshops, tutorials, coaching, specific events and more.
COVID-19 in the Community:
Covid-19 has hit all all hard and for many of us isolation has plaid a part. We hope our facility will enable community connection, reuniting people and create new relationships. Our space will enhance the wellbeing for those using it and create a new opportunity to get active together. We welcome people returning to sport post pandemic restrictions and will support you through the tricky navigation of finding our new norm and comfort levels.
Portsmouth Skate Academy:
Portsmouth Skate Academy is already up and running and has a team of qualified skate coaches. This will move into our new space and expand into other genres creating a long-term base to come and learn new skills.
The Bigger Picture:
Creating a safer community is vital to us. We will work with external professionals to enable us to be more aware and reinforce values. Our project will create opportunities for employment, education and training as well as an opportunity for people to express themselves and improve their self esteem; becoming part of a unique support network.
We have raised over £10k to date with expenses on legal fees, infrastructure set up costs, equipment, training/qualifications, materials and volunteer expenses. We still have £7.5k banked ready to continue this project.
We hope you can see the positive impact that our project will have on our city and the wider area and hope you can contribute. There are many rewards to be had but if you can’t offer support financially, please don’t worry; tell your friends, share our story on social media and help spread the word to those who can contribute. It all helps. Thank you.
*If you have a reward pitch we are here to listen. If we like it, is yours!