Homelessness charity refuses donation from fitness club over pole dancing exercises

Aberdeen Cyrenians declines proceeds raised from the sale of a calendar featuring images of fully clothed students using the pole

Soul-Pole fitness club calendar
Soul-Pole fitness club calendar

The homelessness charity Aberdeen Cyrenians has turned down the proceeds of a calendar sale from a fitness club because its members use pole dancing to exercise.

Sian Young, who runs the Soul-Pole fitness club in Aberdeen, put a calendar together featuring images of her students as a charity fundraising exercise.

The theme of the calendar is movie scenes and features pictures of fully clothed women using the pole while mocking up images from films such as Kill Bill and The Matrix.

One student suggested that Young, who spent seven years homeless as a teenager, donate the money to Aberdeen Cyrenians, which gives shelter to homeless people. Last year's sales of the calendar exceeded £1,000 and a similar sum was expected this year.

Young said she had a meeting with the charity in October when she discussed her plans and believed everything was on track.

"Everything went quiet for a while and then I got a call from the charity’s boss to say he didn’t think it was the right donation," said Young.

Young was mystified at the charity’s decision because the women who use her fitness classes do so wearing shorts and T-shirts.

"If we wear shorts and T-shirts to exercise, does that make us slappers?" said Young. "This is purely about fitness and self-esteem for women and no men are allowed in.

She said the people who run the charity must be confusing what her organisation does with clubs that have naked pole dancing.

Scott Baxter, chief executive of Aberdeen Cyrenians, said he had not seen the calendar.

"We declined the donation because of the tenuous link in relation to the images in the calendar and the work we do with women, some of whom have been involved in the commercial sex industry," he said. "It’s a perception issue. It’s always difficult to turn down a donation and we don’t do it lightly, but I think some of the people we support would agree with the decision."

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