What is the Community Innovation Fund (CIF)?

Snowsport England launched the Community Innovation Fund (CIF) for its pilot year in the Summer of 2022. CIF is a key part of the Snowsport England Inspiring Snowsport Strategy, our aim through participation, to increase overall participation levels across England, with a particular emphasis on underrepresented groups.

The Community Innovation Fund is helping us to deliver on our strategy, by testing out pilot activity across our communities. The core aim of the fund is to enable participants from underrepresented groups to try out our sport, who otherwise would not have been able to, or seen the sport as a place for them. We hope that through these pilots and year on year, we can encourage a lifelong love for the sport, through sustainable and innovative projects.

In 2022 we funded three projects, read on to learn all about them, and find out how you could be part of it this year!

Ackers Adventures, Birmingham

Ackers Adventures, created ‘Sparkbrook Ladies Deaf Ski Group’, a group of local Asian women who had never skied before. Malikah Khan, project lead (and recently qualified ski instructor) found she didn’t see anyone like her in the sport and decided she wanted to do something about it. The number of Asian female participants increased each week, with the project also having a clear social element, with refreshments offered post session and a chance to have a chat which encouraged new friendships and an opportunity to get to know one another better.

Over the course of the project, 23 women tried skiing for the very first time with a number recommending it to their friends and family.

During a project visit, our Participation Officer, Steph was able to talk to some of the ladies at the session. One lady explained, it was her first session, as she tried to walk out to the ski slope, she fell over in the boots, but got back up. The lady went on to say how glad she was that she carried on with the session and how she can’t wait until the following week. All the ladies echoed their thankfulness for the sessions during the refreshments afterwards and stated how it supports them greatly.

Although a great success, there has been lots we could take away and learn from this project, which we will be collating and utilising in application across other projects nationally.  The majority of the women who took part in this session were Muslim, and there were a number of cultural barrier the centre had to overcome, including the lack of an available female instructor.

Ackers Adventures used their male coaches alongside Malikah to coach the women. To enable the sessions to run, the facility used ingenuity and determination to find ways around the cultural and religious barriers that they faced.  The sessions were adapted with clear protocols established at the start of each session. The ladies were able to wear modest clothing that they felt comfortable in, covering their arms, legs, and hair. The male coaches, taught participants at a slower pace, as no physical contact was allowed in most cases; meaning if a participant fell over the instructor could not help them get back up. Even with these barriers, the women were able to reach a plough parallel level. This just highlights perfectly, that barriers can be overcome with discussion and compromise, so both the instructor and the participants were happy and felt safe.

Malikah Khan who was project lead for Ackers Adventures says ”Thank you for the opportunity CIF has given the ladies, who truly benefit from the weekly sessions and social coffee afterwards”

To find out more about Malikah, please see our spotlight article here: https://www.snowsportengland.org.uk/international-womens-day-inspiring-women-meet-malikah/

Ackers Adventures, the main facility for the sessions feel that the project was a success as it allowed them to access the local Asian women and get better known within their networks. The facility has seen 8 of the CIF participants continue to take part in skiing at a discounted rate. Ackers Adventures hopes this CIF project will show the local Asian community are welcome at the centre and skiing is very accessible for them.

Snowsport England are aware of the lack of female coaches nationwide. To better understand the barriers to coaching for those who identify as female, we are working with Loughborough University on a study that will create recommendations of how to tackle the barriers faced.

Malikah Khan- @unlocking_potential_activities

Ackers Adventures- www.ackers-adventure.co.uk

University of Bristol Snowsports Club

UBSC coined the ‘Beginners package subsidy’ opportunity for their new members to learn to ski over a 5-week period at Gloucester Dry slope and Tamworth Snowdome. The project directed the subsidies towards students that usually wouldn’t have the opportunity to try skiing or snowboarding from ethnic minorities, LBGTQ+ and lower socio-economic communities.


The cultural change at UBSC is clear, the club are very open to finding ways to make it more approachable and inclusive to all. The CIF funding allowed the club, to be financially more welcoming to underrepresented individuals whilst the club made many other changes themselves. Most notably the change to having two social secretaries for males, females, and non-binary individuals. The club understood the important position they held in participants lives, away from home at university, the support the club offered was invaluable to some. The club changed to two social secretaries to allow for individuals who identify differently to feel included and supported. The committee was mixed gender wise, with the aim to become more diverse but not have tokenism, everyone should add value to committee. The club were open to try new initiatives to make them more accessible such as putting committee members second languages on their bio. Overall, the CIF initiative has enabled the club to attract those who would not usually feel skiing is for them. Moving forward those from underrepresented groups can now see themselves in the club with the CIF project, meaning the club can build on this year on year.


The project created an opportunity for 20 new participants to take part, 6 LBGTQ+, 7 from ethnic minorities and 7 from lower socio-economic backgrounds. With approximately 50% carrying on their skiing journey with the club, either by going on the Annual Ski Trip or carrying on with training sessions with the club. The club are keen to work towards their goals of diversifying the membership next year and are looking for funding to help subsidise beginner’s packages again.

UBSC found that the subsidies were extremely popular particularly with the cost-of-living crisis which is significantly impacting students. The club identified this as a potential additional barrier so offered hats and gloves to those who needed them each session. The university gave additional bursaries to some students to allow them to carry on with skiing sessions and the club are looking into additional funding to support underrepresented groups long term.

Alex Williams, project lead for UBSC says ”CIF is such a great opportunity to actually make a difference, you should take advantage of it. Something simple and feasible can be very effective. I chatted to the rest of our committee to see what ideas they had, and we wanted to do something that fitted with and just added to what we already do as a club.”

Alex and Lexie from the UBSC committee helped us capture what the club do to help remove the barriers for those who identify as female in Snowsports as part of This Girl Can ‘Enjoyment gap’ action area ‘social’. For an overview of this, please see https://www.snowsportengland.org.uk/snowsport-england-and-this-girl-can-campaign/

University of Bristol Snowsports Club- @UBSC

Gloucester Ski Slope- www.gloucesterski.com

Tamworth Snowdome- www.snowdome.co.uk

Kendal Snowsports Club (KSC)

Our final CIF project of the pilot year is KSC, however this has been extended to make it an 18-month project, to allow for wider changes in Cumbria with local education departments, health care providers and charities. KSC are working towards offering a visually impaired (VI) section as part of their disability offering at the club. This will be initially targeted at primary school age children, although the model could be extended to all ages. The inspirational video they have created using some of the funding about VI skiing highlights how sessions can be adapted to be inclusive. The video has been created to allow parents of VI children to understand what will happen at a session and give them the confidence to let their child have a go at the sport. Although it’s aimed at parents, the video is ideal for anyone who wants to find out more about VI skiing and how it makes the participants feel. The sport is accessible to all and can be adapted for anyone, most important its great fun! Click here to see the video from Kendal Snowsport Club, which showcases their project perfectly.

The project is at the forefront for change and the learnings they are making will be shared with the wider Snowsports landscape to allow clubs to adopt these models. A final case study will be created separately for this project once it ends.

Kendal Snowsports club website- www.kendalsnowsportsclub.co.uk

How to apply:

Like what you have heard? Inspired by our brilliant 2022-23 projects? Have a trailblazing idea?

CIF could be for you!

To apply for 2023-2024 CIF, please complete the application form in full https://form.jotform.com/231233982049356.

Submissions close at midnight on 28th July 2023.

Full guidance can be downloaded Community Innovation Fund (CIF) Information and guidance document-1. We encourage you to read this in full before applying.

For more details or to ask any questions, please contact info@snowsportengland.org.uk.