POOLE based community group Watersports Library is celebrating after being awarded £12,500 in national lottery funding to continue its work helping people borrow and share watersports equipment.

The group based in Hamworthy will use the cash to provide new equipment and hire its first member of staff to look after a second site which it hopes to launch later this summer in Broadstone.

The Watersport Library, which opened its doors in May last, was founded by Rev John Good who created it after realising that - despite living near the water - many people in Poole did still not have the financial means or confidence to take part in watersports.

Rev John Good said: “We’re delighted that the National Lottery Community fund has recognised our work in this way. Now we will be able to build a foundation for the Library to stand on.

“Last year felt like an experiment. This year, with more equipment, a paid staff member and a second site on the horizon, we would love to be able to make the project more sustainable.”

In a seaside town, lack of access to the water is said to be emblematic of other factors of marginalisation that disadvantaged people face.

The community group felt that if they 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.

The experiment started on May 14, 2020 and, despite the restrictions of lockdown, 170 members joined during the summer.

The Watersports Library rent a small space near Hamworthy Beach to store kayaks, fishing tackle, surfboards, paddleboards, wetsuits and more.

People can then borrow this equipment using a cloud-based library management system, which is managed by a small team of volunteers.

The members say that having access to the equipment and spending time on the water has had a positive impact on their wellbeing and given them new local connections and relationships.

Members facing financial difficulties are offered free membership through a pay-it-forward system that Rev John Good says is working “really well”.

The new funding from the National Lottery community fund will increase the water sports equipment available and go towards a brand-new second site which the team hope to launch later this year in Broadstone.

Volunteer Nick Edge said: “This funding will make a huge difference to what the Watersports Library can offer to the local community.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how many adventures and new experiences this will help create.”

The Watersports Library will open its doors again on March 1.

For more information, see www.watersportslibrary.com, or email hello@watersportslibrary.com.