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WATCH: Virtual sneak preview of the planned state-of-the-art Ledge climbing centre in Inverness where the aim will be to improve mental wellbeing and expand life skills

By Val Sweeney

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An impression of The Ledge climbing gym in Inverness.
An impression of The Ledge climbing gym in Inverness.

The boss of a new adventure sports charity has outlined his ambitions of creating a community hub to help improve people's lives in Inverness – and ultimately further afield.

The Ledge, a new state-of-the-art climbing centre and community-focused charity, will open later this year.

It is set to become Scotland’s national bouldering centre of excellence and will also include climbing walls, yoga and gym space, a cafe and retail space following the conversion of a former furniture store at the Telford Retail Park.

Chief executive Duncan McCallum says the goal is to create a community hub where the centre will be run by climbers but is open to anyone hoping to learn new life skills and improve their own mental wellbeing.

"The Ledge is not really the building, but the concept of community and collaboration anchored by climbing," said Mr McCallum who co-presents BBC Scotland’s Adventure Show.

"I would like to see Ledge Centres in the likes of London, Birmingham and Dundee, or at least our programmes being used in other places.

"It should become, or have become, the byword for changing lives in the outdoors world.

"If we change one life in 20 years that would be good, but of course I would like to think we will have changed hundreds for the better, created jobs, pathways and developed successful programmes which could be rolled out internationally.

"There is no reason we cannot do this."

Duncan McCallum at site of The Ledge in Telford Street, Inverness.
Duncan McCallum at site of The Ledge in Telford Street, Inverness.

The opening of the centre will create up to 40 jobs while boosting the local economy by £1 million.

The facility will be part social enterprise, with a mission to offer valuable coping strategies to individuals of all ages who may be struggling in the face of adversity.

Mr McCallum said: "As climbing gyms provide a shared experience where climbers of all levels are supported by peers, visitors can gain confidence and benefit from the camaraderie that The Ledge will create.

"With the vision of ‘vertical living’, a phrase that signifies standing with confidence and clarity, the charity aims not only to nurture and inspire the next generation of climbers but also to offer the skills and strategies grained through climbing as a springboard for better coping strategies, resilience and strength in all aspects of the members’ lives moving forward."

He said climbing has had a profoundly positive impact on the lives of The Ledge’s founders which is something they wished to share with others through various outreach programmes.

The Ledge is developing partnerships with organisations such as NHS Highland, the University of the Highlands and Islands, charities and youth workers.

He said the programmes on offer were being created with the knowledge that the first steps may often be small in order to build an individual’s confidence so that when bigger challenges arose, the foundations were laid for a new set of coping resources to be used.

The project has secured funding from various organisations including Highlands and Islands Enteprise, Sportscotland, the Robertson Trust and SSE.

The charity has also launched a £150,000 crowdfunding campaign at support.theledgeclimbing.com/the-ledge-bouldering-and-climbing-gym.

Crowdfunding campaign aims to raise £150k

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