Dundee’s Factory Skatepark is on a roll with plan for chain of play centres after Pirate’s Island buyout

Dundee’s Factory Skatepark is on a roll with plan for chain of play centres after Pirate’s Island buyout
The Courier, By Graham Huband


A major Dundee social enterprise is planning a chain of branded children’s play centres after completing the six-figure purchase of a popular city venue.


Pirate’s Island in Camperdown Road is under new ownership after a major third-sector funder backed a buyout of the facility by the Factory Skatepark.


Social Investment Scotland (SIS) said it had provided £300,000 of investment cash to the centre to complete the purchase of the early years play centre.


All 11 jobs at Pirate’s Island have been retained during the transfer of ownership.


The group’s new Macalpine base is its first major venture away from Douglasfield, where it has run a well-used skatepark for local youths since 2004 and established the Fun Factory — a £750,000 early years play facility — in late 2012.


The investment — one of the first to be made from SIS’s new £16 million social growth fund — builds on a long-standing relationship between the two parties which saw it put up funds to help build the original £1.3m skatepark in 2004 and also invest £500,000 in the Fun Factory project two years ago.


SIS said the purchase of Pirate’s Island, which houses an adventure area, basketball and football arena, party rooms and a café, would make the facility more accessible to community groups.


The new owners are in the process of refurbishing the facilities and equipment, decorating, extending the café area and bringing the whole building under the Fun Factory brand.


Factory Skatepark chief executive Derek Marshall, a leading light in the social enterprise area in Scotland, said the opportunity to buy the new centre had come at a time when the group was exploring plans to create a chain of Fun Factory branded play centres in deprived communities across Scotland.


He said the chance to take over an established centre was too good to turn down.


“We simply couldn’t have taken this step without the investment from Social Investment Scotland,” said Mr Marshall.


“This is the fifth project that SIS has supported us with, increasing our profitability and helping us grow from being 50% grant-dependent to being almost 90% self-sustaining today.


“Across our network we have created and sustained around 40 jobs, and we hope to work with SIS in the future to expand our impact even further across Scotland,” he added.


SIS chief executive Alastair Davis said the Factory Skatepark was an example of how social enterprise could be a genuine force for good.


“We’ve been working with Factory Skatepark for the past decade and have seen the organisation go from strength to strength, making a significant difference to the community,” Mr Davis said.


“It’s exciting to see them embark on the next phase of their journey.


“Taking on the new Fun Factory facility will ultimately help the organisation become more financially secure and ensure they can continue to create jobs and voluntary positions, provide space for youth clubs and other community groups, and open up sports and community facilities to individuals from deprived areas who would otherwise not have these opportunities.”