Inspired Surfers is a 10 part series – in partnership with Jimmy’s Iced Coffee. We uncover the stories of characters who have taken their passion for surf into their day to day lives and done big and amazing things.

In this episode we are in conversation with Tim Conibear. Tim is the founder of Waves For Change.

A truly inspirational social charity that is changing lives across Africa one wave at a time.

Tim got into surfing in Cornwall from a young age. He then went from being a surf instructor at Harlyn Surf School to linking up with Ticket to Ride to run surf trips in South Africa. The groups he led combined learning to surf with supporting local charities from Cape Town to Durban.

It was on these trips that Tim realised the power of surf within troubled communities. Over time, Tim made it his life’s commitment to inspire change in troubled communities.

Waves for change uses surfing to simplify complex social issues alongside educational programs.

Waves for Change

It all started in 2009. Originally based from a small surf club in the Masiphumelele Township. The club centred around voluntary weekend surfing sessions, which soon grew when local community members – Apish Tshetsha and Bongani Ndlovu volunteered to lead and expand the club.

Apish and Bongani recognised that surfing was a great way to engage young people, who soon started sharing their stories and challenges. In an effort to provide more social support, the trio reached out to local social services only to realise that local services were heavily under-resourced. A gap was identified.

Daily exposure to violence and stress means many South Africans suffer from acute emotional and psychological stress.

In the absence of emotional support, the stress often manifests in anti-social and high-risk behaviour, placing many young South Africans at-risk. Early surfing sessions showed that participants noted improved feelings of belonging, strength, trust and confidence – key pillars of wellbeing. This was reflected in their behaviour as noted by teachers and parents.

The trio crew, teamed up with mental health professionals and development experts to develop, what today is, an award winning Surf Therapy programme.

W4C operates in some of the most at-risk communities in South Africa, Africa and beyond.

W4C Surf Therapy in action in Cape Town
Elands Bay (where Tim was calling from)
Tim doing what he loves in SA


In this conversation Jim and Tim discuss:

  • Elands Bay (where Tim was calling from)
  • The power of surf as a mental health therapy
  • The story of Waves for change
  • The impact of Waves for change in South Africa and globally
  • Personal mental health issues and stories of recovery
  • Lockdown in South Africa
  • And much much more…

We hope that this story inspires you to Keep Your Chin Up, do good and take on the challenges in front of you!

If you enjoyed this episode you can find more conversations on our Wavelength Community channel.

Listen in to conversations with inspired surfers here.


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