Then One Day: The Surf School that put South Shields on the map

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Passionate surfer Nick Jones runs South Shields Surf School on Sandhaven beach in the North East of the UK.

His school doesn’t just help local surf fans practise their skills, Nick gets young people, disadvantaged families and people with disabilities all into the ocean to have fun, grow in confidence and improve their wellbeing. In this episode, presenter Veronica Gordon hears from Nick about how local people convinced him to make his business more community focused; she chats to Mandie Smedley from organisation Family Gateway who work closely with the school; and meets Head Teacher Dave Borrell who changes his students’ attitudes through surfing with Nick.

Read the transcript

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

We’re right on the beach, on this pedestrianised walkway on Sandhaven Beach in South Shields. We work out of two shipping containers, 20 foot and 25 foot, which we’ve painted bright blue and red, and have put changing rooms into. The sea front’s being developed slowly up from one end and we’re at the slightly less developed end. So, we’re next to this dilapidated old lifeguard building. So, there’s this real contrast to this gorgeous beach – it’s over a mile long, golden sands and goes up onto these beautiful grassy cliffs and stuff – and then there’s some luminous shipping containers next to a dilapidated building. At least it’s easy to direct people to.

 

Veronica Gordon

Nick Jones runs South Shields Surf School on Sandhaven Beach in the north east of England. And he’s pretty passionate about the sport.

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

That thrill and excitement from catching that wave and that feeling, that super positive feeling. If I surf a good wave, it sometimes even now just gets overwhelming, and I won’t even surf it; it’s just sort of me grinning as I’m going along, you know,

 

Veronica Gordon

But his school doesn’t just help local surf fans practice their skills. Nick also gets young people, disadvantaged families, and people with disabilities into the ocean to have fun, grow in confidence and improve their wellbeing.

 

Mandie Smedley, Family Gateway

They really create a really friendly vibe on the seafront.

 

Dave Borrell 

The ripple of excitement that goes around the school when they know that surf school’s back. They’re kids that have done it before, but that’s infectious. So, we get another group of kids that heard the other guys talking about it and want to do it as well.

 

Lincoln 

They give us the motivation that no matter what I do, I can progress. I can just try new things. It just helps us.

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

We collected some feedback this week from one of our surf projects working with young people with autism. I think the mum said that she’s never seen her kids so happy.

 

Veronica Gordon

So, you have a group of say shy children coming for their first surf lesson. How do you make them comfortable with getting in the water?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

Grab an arm and a leg, swing really hard. What’s really tragic, Veronica, is I think I’ve made that joke over 1000 times with kids who come to this surf school.

 

Veronica Gordon

Nick is quite the character with a great sense of humour and a pretty chilled attitude, both of which seem essential for his role. It’s non-stop for him and his team, whether running commercial surf classes, or teaming up with local charities to start new surf programmes. Which is why I was really looking forward to speaking to him for this episode of “Then One Day”.

I’m Veronica Gordon and this podcast is all about hearing from people and businesses who are transforming their local communities in unexpected and creative ways.

Nick’s story is quite unlike any of the other organisations I’ve spoken to for this series. That’s because Nick didn’t actually plan to create a business that helps local people. In fact, it was the community who came to him with the idea. We’ll find out just how this happened later in the episode. But I thought we should probably start with the basics.

So surfing, give me some surfing tips for a new newbie. I’ve never stood on a surfboard before.

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

Never stood on a surfboard. So, we would start lying down. We get lying down on the board, get you comfortable and balanced on the board, feet just tucked over the back. Lift that head up. The wave’s starting to approach – we’re going to get your paddling, lifting your head, lifting your shoulders, reaching far forward, and then pulling back generating momentum. Wave hits the back of the board, paddle harder at that point. I normally shout, “Paddle! Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!” Get a good couple of extra strong strokes in. As soon as you feel it going woosh; as soon as that rush takes you, you’ll feel it bite and you know it’s happening because you’re grinning. It’s just like “Oh yes! Off we go”.

 

Veronica Gordon

That sounds really good. And on television, I’ve seen like, you know on some type of surfing scene, you see that huge wave that washes over people. Does that really happen? You can actually go through the wave?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

The barrel?

 

Veronica Gordon

Oh, is that what it is?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Getting barreled! That’s the pinnacle in surfing. So yeah, if you’re inside the tube, that’s the view. And it comes over the top and it’s like this round shape.

 

Veronica Gordon

And how cold is the water?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School    

The North Sea? Yeah, it gets down to, this time of year, probably about six or seven degrees. Yeah, it’s chilly. But it gets relatively warm in the summer – we get to sort of 12 maybe 14 degrees on a nice warm day. But yeah, you need a wetsuit.

 

Veronica Gordon

Nick, what’s your earliest memory of surfing?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

I grew up in South Devon and I went on a school trip during summer activities week when I was about 12. We went to North Cornwall and had some lessons. My memory’s not very good but I definitely remember coming back home and just being hooked.

 

Veronica Gordon

That sounds awesome. And before the surf school, how did you fit surfing around your everyday life?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

You should probably talk to my long, long suffering wife about this more to be honest. But it was pretty dominant for a long time, almost addictive. I would drop almost everything and anything.

 

Veronica Gordon 

And at what point did you think that you’re going to take surfing from something you loved doing and making a business out of it?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

I used to be a teacher, a secondary teacher, and I was living in South Africa at the time. And I remember looking out of the window from my flat over to my pal’s house, and he ran a surf backpackers’ at the time. And him and his pals were all sort of lounging around outside having a barbecue after surf number three that day. And I just looked over at my pile of essays that I had to mark and had to sort of quickly re-evaluate what I was doing to make sure I was in a position to see if I could get a bit more water time. But it turned into a business up here just by accident. A pal of mine approached me and said, “Do you want to start this thing?”

 

Veronica Gordon 

It was the co-founder a friend of yours?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

Yeah. A surfing pal. He runs a surf school, north of the river over in Tynemouth. And I’ve done some lessons for him. And yeah, he just said, “Do you want to run a surf school in South Shields?”

 

Veronica Gordon

That’s brilliant. So, when you both had that idea and decided to do it, how did you fund the startup of the surf school?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

Well, we were both really fortunate that we had some savings that we could put into it and we went pretty low key. He’d just expanded his building and so didn’t need his old surf van, which he used to work out of. So, we had that. Yeah, I remember we went down there during, I think it was April in the north east, and so I was in a down jacket and like a big woolly hat giving out leaflets next to this van with like a sign bungeed onto it, “Would anyone like to come surfing?” We didn’t have any takers to begin with, unsurprisingly.

 

Veronica Gordon

What were your initial aims? Was it more business or community? And how does it shift from business to be more community focused?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

Yeah, I think aims is kind of very generous for what we had when we started to be honest. It was a nice way to potentially make a living. We wanted to just be on the beach having a nice time. And then it took off straightaway. And we had loads of kids regularly down. All of a sudden, I had employees who had started with me as these like 15/16-year-old kids who came on. They just wanted to watch wetsuits so they could hang out down the beach and keep surfing.

 

Veronica Gordon

So, things were going really well with the business. They started running the surf club and even held competitions. And then the school started getting lots of attention from the local community. Organisations in the area began to see surfing as an opportunity to help people in need.

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

It just all sort of snowballed. And then people start approaching us about running different types of projects, using surf therapy and things like that. And we find ourselves, we’re able to deliver these things. And then the thing that really shifted is when me and my wife started a family, and I was like this is unsustainable for me just to keep sort of bumming around the beach all day. My priorities shift, and then it’s like, how do you make this sustainable? How do you make this long standing? So, then we developed it into this more formal community organisation. Yeah, here we are.

 

Veronica Gordon 

That’s fantastic. So, some of the projects that you’ve run at the surf school, just tell me about a couple of them what they are and what their aims are or have been.

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

Yeah. So, we have kids from a local pupil referral unit, who we’ve worked with for years. They’re lush. And then we’re running similar projects for young people with autism. We’re about to start up some projects working with veterans. We’ve got a pay it forward scheme where people, if they buy a lesson, they can check a bit of extra money on top of the lesson that they purchase if they can afford it, and that enables us to just put on weekly sessions for local charities. So, we work with the Children’s Foundation, who work with some of the most vulnerable, disadvantaged children in Newcastle out in the West End. And we’ve got Family Gateway, who are wonderful, who work with families dealing with poverty and the effects of poverty in the Tyneside area. They come in week in, week out. Oh, really exciting! Totally forgot about this. So, this is how it happens down there is somebody will approach us and…so we’re working with Beach Access North East, who are a beach access charity, and they provide wheelchairs, beach access wheelchairs for free. And so, we provide the access to their equipment. But through them hopefully we are going to be developing an adaptive surf programme this year. Loads of stuff going on and it’s all very exciting.

 

Veronica Gordon 

How big is your team managing all these projects?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

I think there’s three of us, who are working near enough full time. And then there’s around 20, part-time freelance staff. But with those projects there, so for example the project working with young people with autism, this wonderful student approached me one day and said, “I want to do a project for kids with autism. Can you help us out?” I was like, “Yeah 100%; we’ll get rolling”. So, she’s managing this project and hopefully we’re going to this year turn it into a proper role for her.

 

Veronica Gordon

So, it’s definitely, you’re following what the community needs?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

Yeah, I think that’s it. Yeah, I don’t think I have enough resourcefulness myself, to be honest, to be sort of doing all of that. I wanted to be on the beach, out the back of a van, and here I am. Often, I look around and go it wasn’t really the plan, managing all this, to be honest.

 

Veronica Gordon

And one of their projects is with a local secondary school that supports young people who have social, emotional and mental health needs. I got in touch with its head teacher, Dave Borrell, to find out more.

 

Dave Borrell 

The kids are amazing. We’re a very small school; there’s only 50 pupils and 20 plus staff. So, we’re more of a family unit; you know, a slightly dysfunctional family if you like. But you know, I’m from South Shields, I live here. And these kids are all local. We do things slightly different here. We have a lot of therapeutic input, in addition to our regular school curriculum, and getting out and doing things like the surf school to sort of give them new experiences and things that they’ve never tried before.

 

Veronica Gordon

That’s beautiful. And what kind of challenges do your young people face?

 

Dave Borrell 

It’s a mixture really. Sometimes they’ve had traumatic early life experiences – so the loss of a loved one or some other traumatic experience. They can have a diagnosis – you know, something like ADHD or ASD or autism. Sometimes they just have challenges at home, you know, social issues.

 

Veronica Gordon 

And let’s talk surfing. How does surfing come in? Why did you want them to go surfing?

 

Dave Borrell 

Well, we’re a mile, two miles from the sea. We all live by the sea, but perhaps take it for granted a little bit. We’ve got a really nice area by the sea here. So you know, we’ve got dramatic cliff tops; we’ve got green open fields beside the sea. And then we’ve got this huge beach, which being from South Shields, the relationship of the town with the sea has always been there obviously. Historically, there’s been a fishing industry and a shipbuilding industry. But as those industries have died out, our relationship with the sea has changed. And I was just trying to incorporate as much of that into school life as possible. And at a very basic level, try something new that’s great fun.

 

Veronica Gordon

So how are the children enjoying the surfing? And how is it helping them?

 

Dave Borrell 

The vast majority love it. You know, I’ve just been talking about summer term. The six weeks before the summer holidays, we’ll start surf school again. And obviously, in the current climate as well in lockdown, where people can do so few outdoor activities and there’s very little to look forward to it seems sometimes, to give them something to look forward to. And the kids who know of surf school are now buzzing because they know that they can go surfing in the summer and their parents don’t have to put their hands in their pockets to fund that. We’ll sort that out with Nick’s support which is amazing.

 

Veronica Gordon 

What changes are you seeing in the young people who are taking the surfing lessons?

 

Dave Borrell 

We’ve got a young man here, for example, who had a really difficult early life experience. He lost his father in the sea. And he actually, for the first time last year, went surfing with the school. It’s the first time he’d really been in the sea and his mother was really worried about him. So, not only has he got over his phobia of the sea, but he loves surfing as well. So, he’s engaged really positively with loads of activities. The kids develop, you know, a positive way to spend their time. Quite often these kids will engage in antisocial behaviour and get caught up in things that, you know, you probably wouldn’t want them to be doing. Not necessarily because they’re bad kids, but because they don’t think there’s anything else to do. So, what we’re doing is showing them some other ways to spend their time. And at the very top of this sort of experience, we’ve got kids who’ve loved it so much that they’re now working for Nick.

 

Veronica Gordon

Wow! And how much cooler is it for the young people to have something like surfing at school?

 

Dave Borrell 

Being able to surf, being able to tell their mates that they surf, you know, and that they can surf, is a great sense of achievement. There are some amazing photographs on our website of kids surfing, and just the pure joy on their face. They love it.

 

Veronica Gordon

But let’s hear from someone who has spent lots of time in the sea with Nick, one of Dave’s young pupils, Lincoln. So, the very first time you went surfing, tell me about that.

 

Lincoln 

Well, I was nervous. But I was like excited at the same time. I didn’t really know what to expect. And then it was like I got in the water and it was just amazing. I just loved it. And I just went back time after time.

 

Veronica Gordon

And how has your surfing improved?

 

Lincoln 

A lot actually. I was like at the point where I couldn’t even get onto the boat, never mind stand up on it. But yeah, it’s came a long way. And I’m proud.

 

Veronica Gordon

Oh, that’s excellent. So, when the teacher said, you could go surfing, why did you want to try surfing?

 

Lincoln 

Because I love the outdoors. And it’s something I’ve never really done, and I’ve heard about. And it was like a new experience and it’s actually like drawn us in to the point where I’m at the beach, I’m wanting to go in no matter what.

 

Veronica Gordon

That’s brilliant. How do you think surfing has helped you in other areas of life?

 

Lincoln 

Oh well, it’s given us the motivation that no matter what I do, I can progress. I can just try new things. And I don’t always have to be scared about going into new competitions or things that I face in like day-to-day life. It just helps us.

 

Veronica Gordon

Well, it sounds amazing. So, what message would you give to another young person who hadn’t tried surfing before? What would you tell them?

 

Lincoln 

Don’t hold back. And you might be nervous when you’re outside the water but once you get in, it’s like a whole different experience.

 

Veronica Gordon

And can you see yourself surfing for many years to come?

 

Lincoln 

Oh, yeah, definitely.

 

Veronica Gordon

And Lincoln, what do you think about Nick?

 

Lincoln 

Oh Nick. Nick’s a character. He’s amazing. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to help. He’s mint.

 

Veronica Gordon

How do you balance out, you know, that community side or your free stuff with your income generation?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

Because we started as income generating only to begin with and have moved now into this, we’re in a pretty good position to be honest. We do have funders and we apply for funding to develop our projects and have had some fantastic support to help develop and grow the business and grow the projects together. So, that we end up with, when we have our surplus at the end of the year, that’s then our funding pot. Sometimes we find with funding is that you have to try and adjust the peg size to fit the right hole. So, you’re ticking some boxes. And it’s difficult to balance it in one regard because you’re trying to focus your resources so that it’s sustainable in the long term. And so that you have that surplus to run those community projects. But I think everybody who runs a community-based business will struggle with that because you have to balance that. You know, you’re trying to generate enough cash so that you can exist and exist sustainably, and then still do the things that actually you want to do. And the things that you want to do are the things which unfortunately, typically, there’s not a huge amount of financial resource for.

 

Veronica Gordon 

So, am I right in thinking you’ve now got Board of Directors?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

We’ve got a wonderful board.

 

Veronica Gordon 

How have they helped the surf school develop and grow?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

We incorporated in 2019. So, it was in the winter of 2018/19 that we got that rolling. Yeah, they’ve been so valuable to shaping us and turning us into a proper organisation. So, we’ve got Lynne – she’s a former primary head and she keeps me spot on, particularly with paperwork around and procedures around safeguarding and policies around working with young people and vulnerable people. And then Steve, he’s just a third sector business whizz. And he’s built these systems which – because I was quite proud of my Excel spreadsheets before I met Steve – and now we’ve got like proper monitoring and like I can give people relevant information about my business without taking a couple of days to drag the information out of the organisation, the systems I had before. So, they’ve been totally invaluable to transforming us and keeping us moving forward. And then their always there if I’ve got like an issue or I’m not sure what to do. You know, I ping a message out to my directors and they give fantastic sage advice.

 

Veronica Gordon 

So, I was just having a look at a bit of stuff around the surf school. And I noticed you kind of equate the water and surfing to wellbeing. Tell me a bit about that link.

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

It’s well documented the connections between being active and more importantly active in nature between that and people’s not just physical but mental wellbeing. There’s a fantastic national organisation called the Wave Project, which has published loads of data – I think it’s using the Stirling Wellbeing Scale they use – that show a significant improvement in the kids’ wellbeing. We find whenever we do stuff with people in water over time that it improves confidence, it improves self-esteem. It can connect to the way you think about things and approach things out of the water.

 

Veronica Gordon

One of the programmes Nick mentioned earlier was Family Gateway. This organisation supports families and young people in the north east. Mandie Smedley is their activity coordinator, and she has a very personal link to the organisation. Her story really shows the importance of organisations like Nick’s surf school.

 

Mandie Smedley, Family Gateway

In 2012, my husband died really unexpectedly and suddenly from a heart attack. I lived up here; I’d moved from Manchester. I was with my daughter who was aged seven when we moved up here, and he died when she was nine. We had no support. Six months after my husband died, I actually had a really daft accident where I slipped on grass and broke my leg in two places – I’ve got metal now holding my leg together. So, Family Gateway got involved to help us. They were taking my daughter to bereavement counselling. And they got her involved in loads of activities because she decided she didn’t…she just dropped out of everything that she was doing – gymnastics, cheerleading, dancing. She just didn’t want to be involved in anything. And she’d become my carer at the age of nine. So, that’s how we got involved with Family Gateway. So, that was as a service user. And now I’m actually just the activity coordinator. But it’s fab because I still get to see all the families and put on activities and see the children enjoying themselves. So, I’ve done a whole circle.

 

Veronica Gordon 

And what are the issues are some of the families that you work with facing?

 

Mandie Smedley, Family Gateway

Oh gosh. They’ve got housing arrears; there’s domestic violence; there’s sexual trafficking, one of our programmes deals with that. We have a programme where it was patients that have got cancer. A whole range of things like children not going to school. One of our programmes is VRU, a violence reduction unit, and it’s to stop children going down the wrong path in life.

 

Veronica Gordon

And one of your programmes involves taking children and families to the surf school. How did that come about?

 

Mandie Smedley, Family Gateway

So, we’ve known Nick for…he is quite a well-known character on South Shields beach. Your typical surf dude looking guy; everybody knows Nick. And it was our CEO that got in touch with Nick quite a while ago. But I now have the pleasure of dealing with Nick.

 

Veronica Gordon

What is it that so special about the surf school? As in why did you all pick that activity, you know, to support the families?

 

Mandie Smedley, Family Gateway

A lot of the children that we work with actually have never been to the beach. And we have a beautiful coastline; it’s amazing. What we see is it’s a social and emotional development for the children. The impact that he has is absolutely amazing. Some of the children are quite apprehensive for the first one, the very first lesson. And the instructors will teach the children the sand, the routine, and what they do, and how they do it. And then the children go in the water and you always see that they’re a little bit cautious that first time, they’ve never done it. It’s like riding a bike; you’re going to be a little bit cautious if you’ve never done it. But to see the confidence grow is absolutely amazing. And the children come out with the biggest smiles. They’re absolutely exhausted by the end of it. They’ve used muscles that they’ve probably never used before. They’ve had so much fun. And the instructors are just so friendly. They just can’t wait to get back into it again the week after.

 

Veronica Gordon

Someone else who has found joy in the sea is Mandy’s own daughter. Mandy recalls that when she first started working with Family Gateway, her daughter went along as a volunteer. And the experience had quite the impact on her.

 

Mandie Smedley, Family Gateway

She didn’t have any confidence at all, as well as taking on the role of being a full-time carer for myself. And just being out there and having fun and seeing everybody else enjoying themselves as well. Even though she was always wary of the water. They’re in a group; they’re colour-coded, they wear colour-coded t-shirts. You can tell which child is in which group; the parents are able to sit back and watch the children from a distance or come up to the edge of the water. So, I could do that too. So, it was just really, really nice to see her just being a child again. It was just really nice to be able to sit and watch her just smiling and having fun and coming out and just enjoying herself. So yeah, thank you to Nick and the surf school for that.

 

Veronica Gordon 

I’m just wondering about your daughter. Now how old is your daughter? Is she still at home and how is she getting on?

 

Mandie Smedley, Family Gateway

She is now 17 – she’s 28 and this year. She passed all her GCSEs with flying colours. She’s actually one of our young volunteers. So yeah, she’s doing really, really well. I’m really, really proud of her.

 

Veronica Gordon 

That’s beautiful. And as a whole, what is the impact of the surf school on the local community, do you think?

 

Mandie Smedley, Family Gateway

Everybody that I know that goes down the sea front ends up going down to that surf school to watch. You look for them surfers.

 

Veronica Gordon

Yeah.

 

Mandie Smedley, Family Gateway

You see so many people just coming down the beach for a walk, and just standing and watching. And they’re always smiling. And you see so many people say, “I wish I could do that. I wish I could do that”. Nick does community cleanup beach days and things like that; he’s quite involved with things like that. He’s very community spirited. Everybody knows everybody; everyone comes along and says hi to them. They really create a really friendly vibe on the sea front.

 

Veronica Gordon

So, Nick, what tips would you give an organisation who would like to positively impact young people?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

What we did was accidental in the sense that we were just in the right place at the right time. I suppose it’s listening to what people need. You’ll be approached by people; you’ll be approached by organisations, by young people explaining what their needs are and what’s missing from a community and what can be done to fix that, you know. And I suppose if they’re coming to you, they’re obviously thinking that you’ve got the resources or the capabilities to do something about that. And I suppose then it’s a case of responding honestly about that. What can we honestly…when we started, if somebody had approached me with some of the ideas that we had, that people wanted to do, I definitely didn’t have the resources or skill set, you know, because we have one the learning is you develop organisations and things. And if you can’t do exactly what they want, can you start making steps towards that? Or just pitch up at a beach with a van?

 

Veronica Gordon 

And how about your little child? Are they of surfing age as yet?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

Not yet, no. He’s only very little. He’s six months old now. Findlay. He’s lush. But it bodes well – his favourite time of the day by a country mile is bath time.

 

Veronica Gordon

Oh brilliant.

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

He shakes with excitement when he sees the bath.

 

Veronica Gordon

Oh, that’s fantastic. So, how does it make you feel when, say like somebody who, they’ve arrived nervous, you’ve taken them through all the steps and everything and they’re in the water and they’ve caught that first wave?

 

Nick Jones, South Shields Surf School 

It never gets old. And to be honest, they’ve got to put up with me being really excited as well. Normally at that point…there’s loads of photos when people come down and I’m in the background putting the same stupid shape with my arms up like this, kind of like shouting. It’s just like…you can’t use them for marketing because you’ve got this like idiot just behind them going like aaahh. It’s lush, yeah. It’s really, really infectious, people getting excited about waves.

 

Veronica Gordon

Every so often, we hear about a study or research that shows a link between being outdoors and our wellbeing. There is so much evidence that being in nature positively impacts our mood. But it is so much more than that. As Mandy, Lincoln, Dave and Nick have shown, it positively impacts entire lives. And it is incredible how a community convinced one man with a love of surfing to transform his organisation into a community business that is enhancing local lives.

It was brilliant hearing from all the guests and about the surf school. If you’re in the area and feel inspired to surf the waves, check out Nick’s website, www.southshieldsurf.co.uk. Thanks to Power to Change who brought you this podcast and to Pixiu for producing.

I’m Veronica Gordon and I’ll be back in two weeks with Abrar Hussain, chairman of One Voice Blackburn. Abrar will be giving us tips on how to create a business model that adapts to his community’s ever-changing needs.

But before you go, if you’re left in any doubt about the importance and power of community business, I think head teacher, Dave Borrell, might be able to win you over.

 

Dave Borrell 

South Tyneside Council – I’m sure if they if they listen to this, will appreciate me saying this – have put a lot of effort into raising the profile of South Shields. And if nothing else, I think the surf school just makes people think South Shields is a bit cooler than probably that it was perceived to be. You know, from sort of May onwards and every weekend, surf school will be packed. So, you know, you’ve got all these guys coming from miles around to surf, learn how to surf, or hire surfboards or paddleboards, or whatever they’re doing from Nick. And then they’re going and spending money in the… there’s loads of cafes and fish and chip shops. And you know, it’s having huge benefits. And it’s stuff like this that helps put South Shields on the map a little bit and attract investment in the area. Just change people’s perceptions of what was just a slightly run-down old mining town and now seems to have a second lease of life, if you like.