“Good morning darling! Hey, are you alright?! Don’t be shy, come over here and give me a hug”..
When we first met with Anne-Marie Waugh (founder of RollaDome All Skate) in a coffee shop in North Acton (West London) it was kind of hard to get the questions across: our chat would get interrupted every minute or so by locals passing by wanting to greet her.
Anne-Marie is undoubtedly a popular figure around West London and her strong, resilient and pleasant personality has certainly helped her to achieve her goals in life. There have been many victories already but she isn’t necessarily slowing down or keeping a tab.
For the greater good
Born into a Jamaican family, she always knew that her goal was to work with and help people. Taking after her mother and father’s commitment to helping others, her mum was a Childminder during the day and worked in a hospital at nights, whilst her dad was a Convienor for the union at British Rail and a train guard, seemed like a natural step.
After joining her local youth club as a volunteer, at the age of 12, she later went into social housing, special needs housing and has been working with kids and vulnerable groups ever since. Her journey in social enterprise has been a “complete roller-coaster ride” for her.
“I know it may sound a very cliché statement to make but, every little really does help. At the end of the day, unless somebody gets up from their comfortable chair and really do something, it’s just a case of nice words with no intentions. So, it’s down to each one of us to figure out what we do best and how we can use such skills to help others.”
If working and supporting children and young people of all abilities (and their families) wasn’t challenging and rewarding enough, in 1997, as a single mother of 2 girls, she decided to go back to school to get a degree in law.
“I want to set an example for my girls. To inspire them to always do their best because I believe that, when you try hard and are persistent, anything can be achieved.”
Bearing that in mind, in 2009 spearheaded the idea of RollaDome All Skate, a charity with the goal of encouraging an active healthy and rewarding activity for young kids via roller skating. So far, over 40.000 young kids, of all abilities, have benefited from the initiative.
The charity was set up by a group of six, with Anne-Marie having lead the organisation with a new team for the last 4 years.
“We realised that kids can be quite self-conscious about doing PE at school as it can be very competitive and intimidating. So, we came up with something that’s fun and affordable. You see, I got really fed-up about all the public talking (and lack of action) on the importance of getting our kids fit and active. In all honesty, on the ground, there is very little help. If we don’t talk to kids, engage with them, do stuff for them, we won’t know how to really help them.”
It’s not always a bed of roses
Despite her strong willingness to make a difference and inspiring ‘keep going’ attitude, she realised soon enough that running a social project can take its toll.
“Once you get out there and want to help, it hits you straight away that getting the funding can be challenging. All the skating lessons and clubs used to be free, or affordably priced, but we cannot do that as much now. However, we aim to keep prices affordable and only charge what it actually costs to deliver.”
To overcome that and keep the project going, the charity is temporary moving into a new office in Hounslow and have now a sister company called RollaDome Ltd, a consultancy/supportive service for the third sector.
“We know what we do and what we are good at here. So, since we can’t really just rely on public funding, we have to find creative ways of funding the project ourselves. So, the consultancy firm will help towards that. We have just got some funding from Wembley Trust which will help to buy new equipment for, at least, 40 kids. Also, we have monthly comedy and quiz night events in local venues to help towards our fundraising efforts.”
One thing is for sure: despite temporally moving away from the area, she isn’t slowing down and West London will always have a place in her heart!
“Teaming up with Cowork Hub will help us to keep our roots in North Acton. The aim is for us to be able to combine my local connections with their outstanding facilities to expand our initiatives in the area.”
From the newsroom