In March 2008 our founder (Christine) received a grant to provide introductory climbing sessions for women with mental health issues. The aim was to provide a space for women to step out of their comfort zone and try what for many is quite a scary sport.
Originally only three courses were scheduled, but the demand from women with a wide range of additional needs was so overwhelming that more funding was found and a total of nine courses were run throughout that year. The feedback was inspiring, and the participants found that the courses helped them to:
gain confidence in themselves and trust in others
feel the benefits that exercise could have on their mental health and well-being
have fun in a safe and supportive environment
Many of the women wanted to continue their climbing on a regular basis and try taking their newfound skills outdoors. We had a day outing to our local “crag” Harrisons Rocks and, based on the success of that, we followed it up with another day out to Dancing Ledge in Dorset.
There was so much positivity about the courses and outings that the women’s climbing club Vertigirls was then formed as a community group and eventually affiliated with the British Mountaineering Council. More funding was found for a comprehensive schedule of indoor courses and outdoor adventures from 2009 to the present day.
Hundreds of women have attended our courses and outdoor adventures over the years and we can honestly say that everyone has gained something from the club regardless of whether they seriously took up the sport or just had one session with us.
We feel that the Vertigirls mission has been highly successful and we hope to carry on helping and empowering women for many years to come.