The non-profit organisation The Boot Room have launched their first project site in England, as they look to provide kit (especially boots) to young children.
The project was started by Carl Bradley in Swansea and within the last couple of years they have been able to expand and now have as many as 12 drop-drop off locations within Wales and now they have made the expansion across the Severn Bridge with a new site in Cheltenham.
We spoke to the man in charge of the site, Keith Carter, about how he got involved with the project.
“The Boot Room project was started a couple of years ago by Carl Bradley in Swansea. He simply wanted to break down barriers to participation in sport and as we all know football kit is not cheap, especially with growing children.
I got involved at the tail end of 2020, when I saw a facebook post and thought it was a great idea. I had a conversation with Carl and Cheltenham became the first Bootroom project location in England.
[Opening the site in Cheltenham] has got to be the most exciting part. It will be the second community bootroom opened and the first one in England. It gives the project a face. It also helps remove the stigma around coming to get boots from us.
People will be able to come in and choose their boots giving them a real experience making them feel special. Its also another great example of local people getting behind the project as Patrick & Libby Cleal from Independently CIC have donated the space to us as well.
It’s in a great location in the centre of Bishops Cleeve and on the main D bus route so is easy for people to get to and I can’t wait for it to be finished and up and running,” said Carter.
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Since its original launch Bradley has been able to expand the project thanks to social media exposure and appearing on Sky One show ‘The Russell Howard Hour’ and Carter has praised the Bradley family for the hard work they have put into the project and hopes the new site will continue their great work.
“Having seen what Carl was achieving in Swansea was a huge inspiration to me, so I was confident in what we were doing. I’m amazed at how fast it has taken off in Cheltenham really and I really don’t think when Carl started out he thought it would grow as quickly as it has either.
But it’s a project that people can really get behind. The grassroots football community is amazing is I knew once the word got out it would go well.
Having Carl appear on the Russell Howard Hour was huge, the Boot Room project jumped from the sites in the Swansea area and Cheltenham to 13 projects across the UK. The segment has been viewed more than 66,000 times online and that kind of exposure is amazing. The more people know that we are here the more people we can help!” Carter added.
So with Carter now overseeing the first location in England for the Boot Room, it gives the organisation a foundation spread even further across the UK and Carter is looking for both local and national support for the next 12 months.
“What does 2021 hold for us? It’s a great question,” Carter said.
“I’m ambitious with what I want to achieve here and I’d love to have more community boot rooms set up across both Cheltenham and spread across the rest of Gloucestershire. It would also be great if we can get the county’s major sports teams like Cheltenham Town and Gloucester Rugby supporting us too.
But most importantly we will be making sure that anybody who needs football boots can get them, regardless of their financial situation or background,” Carter added.