Working Hard for Equality

Willowgate has always been and will always be here for all sections of our community; it’s something we love about our charity! With that in mind our staff are always thinking of ways to ensure that we work hard to ensure we are championing equality and diversity wherever we can.

One of the main reasons for us writing this quick article is to celebrate one of our instructors, Savanna, becoming a #ShePaddles ambassador! British Canoeing came up with this great scheme a few years ago to help give women in paddlesports a platform to inspire other women into the sport. The ambassadors are located all over the UK and throughout the year work hard to promote their love of paddlesports and act as role models in the limelight for other ‘everyday’ women to see in the hope that more women will join in our favourite sport!

We’re really proud of Savanna putting herself out there and can’t wait to see what she’ll get up to in the future! Savanna started her journey at Willowgate as a volunteer with our Additional Support Needs (ASN) club and after seeing her enthusiasm and enjoyment we offered her a role as an instructor with us. It was a steep learning curve at the beginning; learning lots of new sports and developing her paddlesports skills, but she rose to the challenge passing her Paddlesport Instructor and mastering our other activities such as archery and bushcraft. Before long Savanna was working independently, running activities for children and adults. Since then, we’ve supported Savanna to achieve her Paddlesports Leader allowing her to take people on journeys on the river Tay, and before long she’ll have completed her training to be a next level SUP coach as well! It’s great to see her expanding her horizons and continuing her work with young people with addition needs though a part time role with D of E Perth. It’s great when our instructors can continue building their knowledge and experience with other great local organizations while still enjoying working with us here at Willowgate. Great work Savanna!

Our Centre Manager, Adam Burns sits on the Scottish Canoe Association’s (SCA) Equality Committee helping steer and give feedback to the SCA in their committed work in equality and diversity within sport. For Willowgate, this helps keep us relevant and ensures we are always part of the conversation as well as doing our bit to help the wider sport which is really important to us.

Adam also chairs the Mental Health Equality Group which is a topic close to Willowgate’s heart. We work hard to promote sport for recovery as well as general health and wellbeing. Science has proved being outside, active and sociable is good for our mental health and Willowgate aims to promote and encompass that as much as possible. Perhaps we’ll highlight some of our mental wellbeing projects in another article!

Finally, Emily, our Operations Manager, has been part of the Female Equality Group for the SCA since it began. Women leaders and coaches in paddlesport are severely underrepresented, with less than 30% of Paddlesport Coaches in Scotland being female. Emily works with the other fab females in the Female Equality Group to think of ideas to help paddlesports become more accessible to females, and for Emily a big part of this is ensuring we lead by example at Willowgate by hiring, nurturing and giving our female instructors a platform to be their awesome selves!

All in all, our take home message is that everyone is welcome at Willowgate and we think our staff should give themselves a big pat on the back for working hard to keep equality a current theme in our everyday lives. Like all organisations we may not always get it right, but we sure are trying!

If you have any ideas or suggestions for how Willowgate could be more accessible/inclusive, we’d love to hear them! Please contact us at [email protected]