EVENT REVIEW: SkatePAL – Connecting Manchester

SkatePAL is a non-profit organisation that works with communities throughout Palestine to enhance the lives of young people and promote the benefits of skateboarding. It began in 2013, and since then it has built multiple skate parks, provided skate equipment, and sent many committed volunteers out to Palestine for the benefit of Palestinian kids, young people and families.

On Thursday I journeyed to the heart of Withington, South Manchester to have a look at what SkatePAL had going on at Indigo.

As i made my way down Withington high street my eyes found themselves set upon a large crowd. This bore no relation to my exceptional 20/20 vision because it was practically impossible to miss. It was already clear to me what a success the night had been.

At around midnight, even though the streets were flooded with a happy crowd, the venue itself was absolutely full of people. Speaking to guests, I got the impression that everyone was having a good time. Unfortunately, I missed the live band, but I made it in time to hear a very decent hip-hop set. In a room full of friends, it created just the right mood for a little boogie and some good chatter. The crowding was so extreme that it came to its slight downfall, however. The night had to end earlier than intended due to overcapacity. I mean, this is no kind of a flop- if anything it’s proof and merit for the extreme success of the night.

A great feature of the night was the decor. The walls of Indigo were dotted with several one-of-a-kind paintworks. Since SkatePal is a cause that promotes skateboarding in Palestine, it makes sense that the canvases of choice are donated decks. I’ve got to say that I thought they were painted up real good.

But even better than this, the boards are currently being held in a silent auction, which I personally think is an inspired idea. if you’re interested in owning some first-class art, Alex Adetiba is going post pics of all the boards for sale on the events page here.

and you’ll have until 3 pm on Monday 1st May to bid.

Now not only did I get there early enough to experience some good tunes and nice vibes, but I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of encountering my good matey, Mark Vaughan of SkatePal.

Mark got involved with the project last year through friends that had met through skateboarding, and he went to Palestine last summer to share his skills with the kids out there.

He told me that he raised the money to go (volunteers are required to raise a minimum of £200) with a simple JustGiving page, but that other people raised money in a variety of cool ways. I was particularly impressed by two stories. The first was that someone had built a chariot out of old skateboard decks and used it to sell freshly made falafel wraps in Amsterdam. The second was that someone had designed some Palestine t-shirts in the style of skateboarding brand Palace. I’ve put up photo below to show you how sleek they are, so if you don’t manage to swing yourself a deck, get in touch with Mark Vaughan on Facebook, who is currently supplying the t-shirts at £27 inc. postage.

Finally, Mark stressed to me that the group is apolitical. It’s not pro-anything but human rights and fun (‘both things that everyone can get down with’). However, although this is the case, he also detailed that Israel works to inhibit the organisation at every twist and turn, which is clearly a big shame. The government does things like attempt to stop skateparks being built. However, with greater awareness comes greater power. With the years going by and with more events like Manchester Connects being put on, I feel like SkatePal certainly has both on the increase.

Overall, it was really nice to see so many people involved with the night chilling around and enjoying themselves. There was obviously a great deal of effort put into it but I got the impression that there was also a lot of enjoyment shared. When you get everyone doing little jobs and coming together, it’s only natural to find a lot of good vibes floating about. SkatePal put on some good craic, and in my opinion, showed what’s possible when creative people get together to do great things.

The exact moneyz raised at Indigo amounts to £316.12 and will go towards maintaining SkatePal’s current skate parks, as well as towards building another which they’ve got planned.

Learn more about SkatePal at http://www.skatepal.co.uk

And if you missed the event or forgot to donate in person, go ahead and donate online at http://www.skatepal.co.uk/donate/ or https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Alex-Adetiba.

All photo rights belong to SkatePal.

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