A man who was laid off as a nurse during the pandemic and couldn’t return to the area due to a condition that left him partially blind is now on a mission to bring an indoor skate park to Newport. Father-of-two Alan Cains says he began to suffer from depression after struggling to return to nursing when he disclosed his eye problem to employers.
“I was a mental health nurse in Bristol and have been a nurse for 20 years,” the 46-year-old told WalesOnline, speaking from Newport’s only skatepark at Tredegar Park. “Nursing roles in the community have completely changed and they have given me the opportunity to play different roles as I travel through Bristol.
“Because I have a problem with my eyes, I don’t like driving anymore. I told them I wasn’t sure if I could continue driving and I felt there was a lot of uncertainty around that. .
“As soon as I revealed my condition, I felt things were changing quickly. There was so much negativity about it that upset me. I had been doing something for so long and then all of a sudden it just happened. was over.
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Alan said he had no doubt he had gone into a “deep depression” as a result of what he had been through. “As a nurse, I was conditioned to self-isolate and keep everyone safe at work and at home,” he said. “I was very aware of not seeing anyone [during his redundancy process in October 2021]. I became depressed. I knew it was time to do something completely different.
“Last summer I made a little skate ramp in the backyard for my daughter Nancy to play on and my neighbor loved it. They said they thought I should start making more and the do to make a living.
“To be honest, I laughed at the idea of building ramps for a living, but I knew redundancy was coming. I started going to skateparks outside of Newport to get a feel for I found out that it was actually a lot of people from Newport and they were dying to have an indoor skatepark and better facilities in town, but nobody seemed to know how to do it as a social enterprise.
“I started skating in 1986 when I was 11 or 12 years old and it has been with me all my life. I grew up in Bristol where we had four skate parks and now there are 26. As I got a bit older I got involved in the skate community and it was great.
“In Newport, it’s just this one. I don’t know if it’s a lack of confidence or rather a mentality as to where the money is going. To me, the money seems to go to shopping for stores in the city center. There are no climbing facilities, no parkour spaces. I decided it was up to me to try and bring something like this to Newport.
“I lived in Newport for 11 years and had to take Nancy to Cwmbran and Cardiff to skateboard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome skatepark [Tredegar Park], but it’s really hard for beginners or if you’re almost 50 like me. My dream is to create an interior space that is more accessible to everyone.
Alan is now pursuing his dream through his company No-Comply Newport, which became a limited company in December 2021. He has a number of sites in mind but has made the most progress with Unit 2 at Friars Walk – which , according to him, is also the most popular with those who follow his campaign, which you can see here.
There were a few hiccups along the way, but he’s thrilled that he’s now firmly committed to a new and unique project. “It’s been really good,” he said. “Being a nurse in the community for so long, I’m really interested in community work and connecting with people.
“It was a hell of a job. That’s all I did for six months and sometimes it was three o’clock in the morning until 12 o’clock at night. I had never sought to create a social enterprise and it is not easy.
What got him this far were the people he met along the way. He raised £3,507 with the help of the city’s Freestyle skate shop owner Darran Ward and 100 others to buy ramps, safety gear, coaching and to try and secure a facility .
“The more people I met, the more convinced I was that it was a good idea,” Alan said. “The response on our pages and on the campaign page has been absolutely phenomenal. I’m so grateful, and it’s not just the 101 supporters online, we have more in stores in Newport. We have 600 followers on Instagram.
“I did a questionnaire asking who would be interested and we got 150 responses in a week, and most wanted something in the heart of downtown. That’s what we seek to do.
“Initially, I think it will be a small-scale indoor park, but I would like to think it could grow into something bigger. Further on, I would like to create a bigger space with a climbing facility as well.
He found some resistance to his plans which he says surprised him. “When I was 16 I started a skate park in a youth club and it was really easy. Here I contacted a lot of youth groups, community groups and clubs and none of them “is interested. My first thought was that it could start very small like that but most clubs were worried about their floors.” You can go here to sign up for our Newport newsletter to get local news straight to your inbox.
Coby Westwood, 15, from Ringland in Newport, says he’s been going to Tredegar Park to skate with his friends for years. He desperately wants Alan’s campaign to succeed.
“There aren’t enough here,” he said. “We end up skating in the street and getting kicked out all the time. It’s the only place you can stay in Newport and it’s not great.
“You can end up having a lot of problems. I think if there were more skate parks, fewer people would find themselves in this situation. There would be less antisocial behavior which seems to be increasing lately.
“I would definitely use an indoor park in town. At the moment, I often go to Cardiff to skate. That’s a lot of travel.
Milo Harris, 17, said: “I’ve been coming here since last summer. That’s fine, but it’s mostly kids running around and being dropped off and picked up by their parents.
“It’s a nice place overall, but it gets a bit sketchy at night. I think there would definitely be room for a place inside. This is something I would really support.
Rupert Smith, 15, also supports Alan’s campaign and hopes to see indoor space in the city centre. “I come to Tredegar Park occasionally on the weekends and sometimes after school, but it’s a bit dated now and it would be nice to have something new,” he said.
For Alan, it’s now about winning funding. He works closely with Sport Wales who provide advice on how his efforts can be targeted. “They’ve been really good at fairness,” he added. “They certainly seem very open to the idea.”
To learn more about Alan’s campaign, visit the No Comply Crowdfunder page here.