Special Olympics GB launches first Social Enterprise with introduction of Niall Guite – Art with a Special Goal
Special Olympics GB is delighted to announce the launch of its first Social Enterprise – among one of the first within the Special Olympics movement - with the introduction of a new Special Olympics GB athlete led online art business called Niall Guite - ‘Art with a Special Goal’.
As of today, Special Olympics GB athlete, leader and talented artist Niall Guite’s distinctive and beautiful drawings of well-known and iconic sports stadiums from both home and abroad will be available for purchase across a range of products including prints and mugs from Niall Guite - ‘Art with a Special Goal’ at www.niallguite.com. Bespoke commissions are also available on request.
The launch of Niall’s website is the culmination of 18 months of hard work and drive by Niall which started out in March 2020. During the pandemic, Niall came up with the idea to start drawing football stadiums from across the UK to raise funds for Special Olympics GB during the nationwide 2.6 Challenge, which the organisers of the London Marathon launched on what would have been the 40th anniversary of the London Marathon.
With an original target of £260, through a combination of Niall’s striking artwork and his brilliant ability to market himself, his drawings and to connect with people on social media, Niall not only smashed that target raising more than £6,000, but his artwork also caught the attention of world-famous artist, Grayson Perry who posted on Twitter that he “loves” Niall’s drawings. Niall also received video messages of support from Man City midfielder Rodri, former Sheffield Wednesday player Kadeem Harris; and Sevilla manager and Special Olympics Global Ambassador Julen Lopetegui, to name but a few. Not to mention the dozens of messages of encouragement from sports organisations, celebrities, and Special Olympics GB athletes right across the UK.
Niall Guite, who is a Special Olympics GB World Games gold medal-winning basketball player turned cyclist from Sheffield said: “I’m so excited to launch my business. It means the world to me. This is a social enterprise business, and I am hoping to show that people with intellectual disabilities can be successful not just in sport but in employment too. It’s a dream come true.”
Grayson Perry, contemporary artist, writer, broadcaster, generous supporter and now friend of Niall, said: “I love Niall’s drawings. He’s a brilliant artist with a beautiful signature style. I’m the proud owner of a Niall Guite original he drew for me of the London Olympic Velodrome, and I love it. Niall is a lovely man and it’s been a pleasure getting to know him recently. If you want to make a difference to someone’s life and support a worthy cause, then please visit Niall’s website.”
Niall’s website, which was built with support from Special Olympics GB and Childish Design is Special Olympics GB’s first step as an organisation into establishing its own Social Enterprise to help provide more meaningful employment opportunities for more of our athletes like Niall. With 94% of people with an intellectual disability not in paid employment* this is a great step forward and one we hope others will embrace.
Tom Casson, Athlete Leadership and Enterprise Manager at Special Olympics GB, who has been working with Niall in the build up to launch, said: “At Special Olympics GB our athletes are at the heart of our organisation, and we continually look to provide opportunities for them to showcase their skills and talents both on and off the field of play. Seeing Niall grow and thrive and the purpose and drive his idea has given him, made us want to do more to support Niall and the entrepreneurial skills of our athletes, hence the move into social enterprise.”
“The aim of our social enterprise is for our athletes to receive as much of the profit as possible. Any profit received by Special Olympics GB will be re-invested into the development of further Athlete Leadership and Social Enterprise projects for other Special Olympics GB athletes and to help provide more employment opportunities for more of our athletes.”
Paul Richardson, Chair of Special Olympics GB said: “This is an exciting day for not only Niall and his family but also for Special Olympics GB and combines several aspects of our new four-year strategic plan – Inclusion in Action.
“We particularly love that this whole project from the start to this point has come from Niall, been driven by Niall and is a real passion project for him and we couldn’t be more delighted to support him in this way. This is Niall’s time to shine, to build on and demonstrate the many abilities and skills he has, and Special Olympics GB will be with him every step of the way.
“We know first-hand how difficult it is for our athletes to secure meaningful paid employment and for us to be able to help in this way just goes to prove what people with intellectual disabilities can achieve through transferable skills gained through our Athlete Leadership programme with the right help.
“This is only just the beginning of our Social Enterprise and we’re looking forward to being able to help other budding Special Olympics GB Athlete entrepreneurs out there. So please show your support for Niall and visit his website. Christmas is coming and his prints really do make excellent gifts!”
* Source: NHS Digital 2018
Images of Niall and his artwork plus further details of Niall’s story can be found HERE.
Video footage of Niall’s Story includes: