As previously reported, Skate Safe Space is a place for female and non-gender conforming skateboarders to make contact regarding harassment, safety, concerns or worries within the skateboarding community. Faith and Alice are on hand to provide confidential support, advice, or simply to have a chat with, so if you have anything you need to get off your chest, don't hesitate to make contact.
It's been a busy and intense four weeks since the community group was launched and rapidly grew, but as Skate Safe Space continues to gather pace, Faith and Alice have released an introductory piece that aims to explain about their individual backgrounds, where they're currently at, and where Skate Safe Space is going.
Read and learn below, and - as always - make contact with Skate Safe Space if there's anything you'd like to discuss.
My name is Alice Smith, I am 22 years old, from Birmingham and I’ve been skating for coming up to nine years now! My reason for wanting to be a part of Skate Safe Space mainly comes from wanting to help people who are victims of assault in the skate community, with a focus on women, and non-gender conforming people. The skating ‘community’ may not always be as inclusive and welcoming as people often portray. There is an inherent power disparity which makes it a lot easier for men to wield and abuse power. We see this function on so many levels, from smaller abuses such as gendered and misogynistic comments, to more overt ones, such as assault. For example, one recurring theme that I have noticed in the skateboarding community is that there is an entire culture of older skaters preying on underage girls. I had to deal with this a lot when I was growing up skating - “you’re mature for your age”, “you’re gonna be hot when you’re older” etc etc. - from as early as the age of 14.
I am also a victim of assault, some of which I wasn’t aware of until years later due to not understanding consent properly, and feeling as though I couldn’t speak out about my experiences due to feeling powerless, as the guy was a much older skater. Thus, Skate Safe Space, for me, embodies a platform that I wish I had access to when I was younger. A platform to talk, connect, and empower, by offering advice and safety to those who also feel powerless in the face of abuse.
Faith: My name is Faith Shona Nandy, I am a 24-year-old Indian-Irish skateboarder and trainee Dramatherapist. Founding Skate Safe Space (aka. SSS) was hugely empowering and when Alice reached out to get involved, I was over the moon. We are both working exceptionally hard to make SSS effective and progressive. It is not new information that there are abusive people within the skate scene, however, there has never been a way to tackle it. Until now, the attitude of essentially hoping it doesn’t happen to you (perhaps again) has been survivors only hope. I learned about more and more allegations and statements from people, a lot of them women, and realised that there is no systems in place to support people experiencing abuse. I was personally effected as I have been abused by a person within the skate scene and realised that I myself had learned to “let it go”. It took years of therapy and spiritual work to heal from that and I believe no one should be expected to deal with their trauma quickly or alone. Skate Safe Space was created to support those who are struggling to cope and to raise awareness about the reality of the systemic discrimination towards women and gender non conforming people within a male dominated sports scene. We want to educate young people on the right way to engage with one another whilst also being a listening ear for survivors who feel alone. We are working on creating some templates for people who need to contact services, we are developing relationships with organisations and services, some including The Ben Raemers Foundation, Victim Support, Crime Stoppers, and are currently in process of contacting the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, so that we can begin to make a real and long-lasting difference. Right now, our only platform is on Instagram (@skatesafespace) where we personally reply to DMs and post content centred around raising awareness.