The Broadcast / Get City Kids Surfing

Get City Kids Surfing

We believe everyone should get the chance to experience the sea. City Kids Surfing is a grassroots charity that takes on this issue by providing a safe space for inner city kids to be introduced to the ocean and the joys of surfing. Founded by Tom Franklin in Lewisham in 2016, the charity is now proudly supported by the Finisterre Foundation CIC.


4 min read

Words by Tom Franklin

Film by Luke Pilbeam

Images by Jack Johns

I’m Tom, a Primary school teacher from London. I grew up in London but spent my summers body surfing and swimming with my family in the breaks around Constantine Bay, North Cornwall.

Working in South East London schools for over a decade, I’ve sadly watched the attitudes of large waves of young people growing up in inner city areas reduced to hopelessness, turn to serious crime and, for some, an early exit... I felt lucky to have been taken away once a year and introduced to my saviour for life – the ocean.

School trips have been farms and abseiling for far too long, so we decided to target groups of children who had never seen the ocean in the UK (and likely never would) and take them surfing. Once we started the City Kids Surfing project, we realised just how powerful it could be. We ended up contacting the team at Finisterre and told them of our plans. Amazingly, the guys simply said… "How can we help?"

What we want from this is to change lives. As Sandy Kerr so aptly told the group when he spoke to them in Finisterre’s London store, “In the ocean your troubles simply wash away”.

We see that change in the children. They soften over the weekend noticeably, and when in the water they forget about bravado and attention seeking. It’s challenging and cold and exciting, so they do what we all do in the surf; they forget themselves and mix excitement, fear and fun. It’s amazing to watch. One girl said through chattering teeth, “I want to do this all the time!" and we had 1ft slop all weekend! Surfing is so dynamic; they don’t have time to get bored or down on themselves even with no waves! We had boys who dislike each other and often fight, high-fiving and discussing wave direction and foot placement together.

I hope it stays with them... It certainly stays with us.

Supported by the Finisterre Foundation


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