The Watersports Library opened its doors in 2020 in the early stages of the pandemic. John Good, a Baptist minister started the library as an experiment. After spending some time in Hamworthy, Poole we realised that - despite living near the water - many of our neighbours did not have the financial means or confidence to take part in Watersports of any kind.
In a seaside town, lack of access to the water is emblematic of other factors of marginalisation that disadvantaged people face. We felt that if we could create a local library of watersports gear, and build a community around the idea of resource sharing, it could drive a wide range of connected benefits from being out on the water, whilst also bringing people together to tackle loneliness and isolation.
That’s exactly what has happened so far. Our experiment started on May 14th 2020 and we had 169 members join in the summer, despite the restrictions of lockdown. We rented two small spaces. One near Hamworthy Beach and another at the Junction Leisure Centre in Broadstone. We stored kayaks, fishing tackle, surfboards, paddleboards, wetsuits and more. People were then able to borrow this equipment using a cloud-based library management system, which is managed by a small team of volunteers.
In 2022, we became more ambitious. The dream would be that if we could create something which democratised the borrowing process, and made it simple, maybe more people than ever could experience the health benefits of being on the water? At the same time, people who had watersports gear lying around could make some money sharing it out with others.
That's where we are now. We want to be part of a vibrant community where loads of people borrow and share watersports equipment with each other. Borrowing is better than buying. It's better for the planet. It increases social trust and it equalises the rich and poor. Whether you are a business or an individual, borrower or sharer, you are invited onto this journey with us!