Wednesday, 14 October 2020 18:27

The North Face Explore Fund - Supporting climbing in the UK

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For more than 50 years, The North Face has been led by our purpose to lead the world forward through exploration. During this most difficult of years, we once again took action to try and support the global community we are all part of.

That’s why earlier this year, we announced we would be committing €1 million to help  outdoor communities around the world. Communities that enable exploration everyday but are facing an unprecedented challenge to survive due the COVID-19 pandemic.

We were overwhelmed by the response to our announcement, with outdoor groups, businesses and charities all reaching out to us with a desire to drive exploration. With so many excellent and varied organizations applying, the decision who to partner with was incredibly challenging. However over the coming weeks we are proud to begin telling some of our chosen partners stories.

Two of those partners are organisations that truly connect communities through climbing, Urban Uprising and Sunderland Climbing Wall.

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Urban Uprising is a non-profit organization which uses rock climbing as a tool to elevate and inspire disadvantaged young people, helping them to develop trust and learn new skills through climbing.

Its team of trustees and volunteers run three levels of ‘engagement’ through its programmes: Taste, Climb, Repeat. First introducing people to climbing and breaking down barriers to the sport, before helping young people learn the different techniques required to climb and the heavy focus on problem solving. Finally, weekly drop in sessions allow a love for climbing to blossom.

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It’s a sport that Urban Uprising’s programme manager Ben Campbell feels has much to offer. “Climbing is a tool to develop life skills, things like building confidence, resilience and more obviously physical health, which is tied to mental health,” explains Ben. “I personally feel that climbing is one of the best tools for personal development.”

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This belief in the power of climbing to bring positive change is one shared by Ashleigh Loughlin, senior instructor at Sunderland Wall.

“We truly believe that climbing is one of, if not the best way to connect with yourself, improve your mental and physical health, have fun and meet new people. We want to be able to give everyone the opportunity to do that.”

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The opportunity to climb is key and through its mobile climbing tower, Sunderland Wall has been able to bring climbing to communities that otherwise couldn’t access it, such as local schools and charities. By giving people a taster of what climbing has to offer, it hopes to inspire a long-lasting relationship with climbing, one that can lead to new friendships, greater confidence and deeper empathy.

Both Urban Uprising and Sunderland Wall were forced to close their doors and halt their outreach programmes earlier this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak and The North Face Explore Fund is support them to get back on their feet and get climbers back on the wall.

Sunderland Wall has been able to bring in new infection prevention measures to keep it’s mobile wall operational and safe for all. For Urban Uprising the pandemic altered not only the way it got people climbing but also it’s fundraising methods, but with the Explore Fund support they are now looking to partner with new climbing groups across the UK, including in Abeerdeen, Bristol and Cambrdige.

The stories of Sunderland Wall and Urban Uprising are just two of many that we’re supporting. To read more about The North Face Explore Fund and our work with Urban Uprising and Sunderland Wall visit: https://www.thenorthface.co.uk/en_gb/about-us/explore-fund.htm or follow us on @thenorthfaceuk on Instagram, and @thenorthface on Facebook.