A profession from a passion

… this is Part 2 of Kyle’s story…

“Can I ask you to start at the beginning. Where were you born?”

“I was born in Torbay hospital,” says Kyle. “And I’ve lived in Paignton all my life. My mum is half Iranian and my parents split up when I was still a baby. My dad lives in Torbay.”

“Have they had new partners since?’

“My mum re-married. Her new husband came into my life when I was 5 or 6 and they split up a couple of years ago when I was 18. My mum hasn’t taken that well.”

“And how is your relationship with your mum?”

“We used to be really close. But when I decided to go my own way and make my own decisions she didn’t support me. When I said I was going to leave college and teach parkour she said, you’re not going to get anywhere in life with this. She said, you’ll end up working in MacDonalds. My dad – my birth dad – was really supportive. He said, this could be really good, this could be big, you could accomplish a lot with this.

“So I’ve drawn closer to my dad over this but I’m more of a loner now. I have my girlfriend and I stay with her family and sometimes with my nan – my mum’s mum who lives in Brixham – but for the most part I like to be on my own.”

“You don’t see your mum?”

“No. I moved out… was kicked out.”

“You don’t talk to her now?”

“I haven’t spoken to her properly for about a year, but my nan makes me from time to time. My nan is a scary lady,” he says with a smile, “so I listen to her. My mum was 17 when she had me and my nan used to look after me when my mum went back to college and, over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time with her in Brixham.”

“So did you go to YES when you were younger?”

“No, I never went to any youth clubs. I was either playing video games or getting into trouble.”

“Doing what?”

He laughs. Laura laughs. “Things I shouldn’t have been doing.”

As visitors come and go, to look at the exhibition of Singer sewing machines or marvel at the ornate interior, Kyle tells me his passion for parkour started at school and he was inspired by the Jump London and Jump Britain documentaries on TV. He and his mates raised money to bring some of the top British free runners into school to give them lessons.

After his GCSEs Kyle completed a two-year media diploma and was in the middle of another in outdoor adventure sports when the local leisure group spotted a piece about him in the paper.

“They run all the leisure centre in the area and asked if I’d do some voluntary stuff for them on youth nights. That was the beginning really.”

He then started to get busy, running private lessons for individuals and groups and so decided to give up college but nor before he was awarded a subsidiary diploma for his outdoor adventure course.

“Has your mum ever seen what you do?” asks Laura.

“Good question,” I say, a little too patronisingly.

“Yes. My mum didn’t think I would make a living out of what I enjoy but is really proud of me now. There’s still a lot of friction because I guess she doesn’t want to admit that she was wrong.”

The sun breaks through the grey clouds. “That’s just typical,” I say, “the sun always comes out as soon as you finish the shoot.”

The Neighbourhood Challenge came at a good time for Kyle. Yes, he was making some money from private lessons but hadn’t quite turned his passion into a workable business proposition. “The kick start cash paid for some specialist scaffolding and gym equipment. That’s allowed me to start teaching and to do shows all around the bay. The NESTA grant definitely help me expand the business and make me more well-known. I’ve got my own website now and a portfolio of pictures.”

“Did you do any of the business training with Outset,” asks Laura, who has been through the same process with her community photography proposal. “Yes,” says Kyle, “but not at Brixham. I did mine in Paignton. They gave me loads of advice about advertising, coming up with business ideas, managing your time. I’m always working. I’ve been ill recently – ’flu, bronchitis – and my girlfriend thinks it’s because I work too much.”

“It sounds to me like you’ve really grown in confidence over the past year. Do you think that’s because you’ve started to make more money from it?” I say.

“If I could I would do it for free. I don’t like the concept of money. I wish everything was free and everyone did stuff for one another. People would be a lot happier that way. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, I can’t.”

“So, are you making it pay? Are you bringing in a wage?”

“I’m quite happy with what I’m earning at the moment. It’s enough. I’m really proud of what I have accomplished over the last year or so, but I’m always aiming to do more.”

“What would you had done if you had won the £3500 prize?”

“I would have bought more equipment and maybe started my own youth club. I think I’d be good at that. Even now, when I’m teaching parkour, some of them talk to me about things they wouldn’t discuss with their parents. They trust me. Sometimes they confide in me and I’m fine with that. There were times when I didn’t have anyone to talk to, so it’s good to be there for them.”

“How did you feel about not being a winner?”

“It didn’t bother me that much. I have enjoyed meeting people and enjoyed what I’ve accomplished with the amount of money I’d received. Also, I’ve since heard I’ve won two more grants so everything is moving forward.”

Aware of my tight schedule Laura and I say our goodbyes and head back to the car park. My next appointment is with Andrew, the chair of Brixham YES and Laura kindly points out where he works before I drop here back in Brixham.

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