At McConks we’re really proud of our sustainability credentials and ethical pricing policy. But sustainability isn’t just about the environment. It’s also about society and culture, about economics and about ethics. For us, just doing our bit for the environment with litter picks or plastic campaigns isn’t quite enough. With both Andy and Jen having worked as sustainability and environmental consultants for large consultancy firms, we understand a bit about what real sustainability means.
So as part of our commitment to social and economic development, we invest some of our hard earned profits to bring the benefits of paddleboarding to children and disadvantaged young adults. We call this our Go Inspire initiative.
We do this because we’re really quite lucky. Although not everything has always gone to plan, we’ve generally had it easy in life. And we want to help people who don’t have it quite so easy. Quite simply, it’s the right thing to do, and it’s our way of giving something back to the community.
Building confident new lives with SUP
It’s well documented that SUP is a relatively accessible watersport for kids of all ages. Unlike, for example, surfing or kitesurfing, most people will be standing on a SUP within 15 minutes of getting on one for the first time. And this is especially true for quality inflatable SUP which have more volume, and hence buoyancy, for nervous beginners. And kids find it even easier than adults. However, a fleet of inflatable SUP can be out of the reach of all but the most well off youth clubs and community groups. It’s probably the kids in clubs and communities who cannot afford new kit who deserve more opportunities to develop their water confidence and safety skills. And all of the other all round confidence building and team working skills that come from playing around on SUP.
Of course, there are other sections of the community equally excluded from this great lifestyle of ours. Whether this be young adults from disadvantaged homes – with poor verbal and social skills – who will struggle to climb the social ladder without help. Or whether this be less abled or disabled people who don’t have the confidence or access to SUP clubs and SUP gear.
Every year we set aside a proportion of our annual budget to discount our SUP packages for schools, clubs, organisations and communities that work with youngsters or disadvantaged people of any age.
To date this has included supporting outreach services for less abled people such as Beyond Boundaries East Lothian, youth organisations such as The Scout Association, schools who organise outdoor education courses and Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, organisations like the Princes Trust, and charities like the the Wave Project.
Our Go Inspire Partners
Youth can do it – The Princes Trust
In 2017 we became an approved supplier to the Princes Trust, and in May last 2017 we provided a heavily discounted fleet of 15 inflatable SUP packages to the Princes Trust South region. In case you don’t already know, The Prince’s Trust works with 16 to 24 year old young adults. These might have struggled at school, have been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. The Trust gives practical and financial support, developing key workplace skills such as confidence and motivation.
And the Trust’s adventurous activities programme is a core component of their service developing social, team working, communication and confidence skills. In 2017 we ran a pilot scheme with the Princes Trust South region to replace some of the heavy kayaks and canoes that previously formed part of the service with a fleet of 15 lighter and more transportable SUP. With storage space being at a premium, the Trust wanted to replace some of the solid boats with quality inflatable SUP boards that could be moved between different centres.
The pilot was a massive success, and we’ve now got four fleets in three different Princes Trust regions, and we’ll be working with even more regions in 2020.
Be prepared to inspire – The Scout Association
Any community enterprise, group or charitable enterprise that works with kids is eligible for Go Inspire. And that includes groups that form party of The Scout Association.
Our first Scouting participant in the Go Inspire programme is one of the oldest scout troops in the world, the 1st Norwich Sea Scouts, who we sorted out with a fleet of our 10’6 Go anywhere and 12’8 Go Explore board packages for use in expeditions and troop activities.
We also supply the instructors at the TSA adventure centre at Lochgoilhead. Located close to Loch Goil and Argyll Forest Park, Lochgoilhead offers an exceptional natural setting for high-quality outdoor learning in hill, forest and water environments. Delivered by an experienced team of instructors, our residentials for schools, Scouts, and other youth groups offer challenging educational experiences for young people of all ages and abilities. And we’re also working with the staff to secure funding and provide discounted fleets for another two centres in Scotland that are associated with Lochgoilhead.
The latest TSA group to be part of our GoInspire initiative is 1st Penycae Scouts.
Busting Boundaries – Beyond Boundaries East Lothian
We’ve been working with the charity Beyond Boundaries East Lothian (BBEL) from the very early days of McConks – in fact BBEL were some of the first recipients of our very first range of inflatable SUP boards . BBEL is a service that aims to promote and increase access to outdoor activities. They aim to help people aged 16 and over with disabilities or mental health issues to access outdoor activities.
Steve Nelson who runs the service is passionate about extending the scope and depth of the service, and we’re so proud be a small part of that, by providing a small fleet of boards for BBEL users.
Getting less abled users onto paddleboards can be challenging. So we’re currently working with BBEL to work out the most effective way to secure wheelchairs to an adapted version of our McConks Mega SUP. And we’re also working on adapted seats for single paddleboards.
And we’ve got some exciting things to announce in 2020. We’re working with a number of specialist suppliers to make some of our boards absolutely perfect for wheelchair users. Watch this space!
Supporting the best schools
City College Norfolk is one of the leading schools offering degrees in Sport and Outdoor Leadership. We’re chuffed to be working alongside the outdoor ed watersports leader Adam Williams, also a British Canoeing coach, to ensure that the next generation of outdoor ed leaders use the very best SUP kit to develop their skills with
Our Go Inspire initiative to date has allowed some fantastic charity and community groups access to SUP kit at a price that is not commonly available, and at a fraction of the price of the trade prices offered by the big watersports brands. We’re so pleased that we can do this in the interests of genuine sustainability.
Outdoor education centres
We’re working with OEC across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in 20202. Our preorder scheme is win win for the OECs we’re working with. As a small company, one of our biggest costs is the cost of cash. Often OEC are looking to spend end of year budgets, but aren’t necessarily desperate to get hold of SUPs during the depth of winter. So we sort out the centres with great prices that are at, or better than, our cost price if they pay front, for delivery in the Spring of the following year. That way the OEC get their students on the best kit at the very best price, and help us to the get the GoInspire message out there!
New to GoInspire in 2019 were Cumulus Outdoors, Mere Mountains, CMC Snowdonia, Loftus training, Celtic Adventures and Pendine OEC. And we’ve got the Kepplewray Centre, the Patterdale Centre already joining us in 2020, and we’ll shortly be announcing a very exciting partnership with one of the UKs biggest Trusts.
Go Further: Cadets
We’re very proud that we’ve become an accepted an approved supplier to the MOD, their adventurous training centres, and their cadets. The MOD value rugged, functional and versatile much more highly than slick marketing claiming to make military grade PVC. New to GoInspire in 2019 are ATC 211 Squadron Newbury, joining the many army, air and navy cadets already on the initiative. We’re also really thrilled to be working with HMS Temeraire (the home of Adventurous Training for the Royal Navy) in 2019.
Do you want to Go Inspire the future of SUP?
We’re really proud of what we’re doing, and certainly don’t want to overstretch our small family company. But we think there’s more we can be doing. We know there are loads more worthy charity and organisations we can work with. And there might even be a little bit of Go Inspire budget left for 2019. In the future we want to be in a position to be able to give kit to the most worthy groups, rather than just heavily discount it. This is one of our number one objectives as McConks grows.
If you think your organisation or charity would benefit as a partner of our Go Inspire scheme, please contact us on email@example.com , or through social media @mcconksuk using the tag #goinspire #inspirethefuture #futuresup