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NHS Charities funding to help marginalised groups access outdoor activities

News

19 Nov 2021

Deaf people as well as those from minority groups from Bradford district and Craven will get the chance to take part in outdoor activities, such as mountaineering, thanks to funding from NHS Charities Together.

Following a successful funding bid of just under £25,000 from North of England Activities and Training (NEAT), supported by the Act as One health and care partnership for the district, people will benefit from skilled experts so they can safely take part in outdoor education, activities and exercise.

The funding will be used to expand the current women’s mountaineering group, establish a men’s group including support for those who are deaf through British Sign Language interpreters and part-funding for a new wheelchair-accessible minibus.

In addition an annual training programme will be established that includes mental health awareness, minibus driver training and outdoor leadership which builds on the NHS community walk leader role.

Building on over 10 years’ experience, NEAT will work with voluntary and community sector partners to in developing a training course and qualification that is accessible and affordable.

Chris Johnson, chair for NEAT, said: “The NHS Charities Together funding is a fantastic opportunity to increase the reach of strenuous outdoor exercise and ecotherapy. This will reach various minority groups who need it most, including people who are deaf. We are delighted that we will be able to increase training provision for new outdoor leaders, and overcome transport barriers.”

Michelle Turner, director of quality and nursing at NHS Bradford District and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group and senior responsible owner for the Act as One Healthy Hearts Programme, added: “Evidence shows that people from ethnically diverse communities as well as those with disabilities are less likely to take part in outdoor activities. This means that they have less access to the strenuous exercise involved in hill-walking and climbing which could improve their overall health. This funding will help broaden access to wider group of people so that they can enjoy the wonderful scenery we have in this country and more importantly get an opportunity to improve their physical and mental health.”

One of the people to benefit from the work of NEAT is local mum, Misbah Ahmed who shared her experience: “A few years ago a friend told me about one of the hiking groups led by Chris from NEAT, and told me to come along.  From then, I got along with Chris straight away, he knows so much and is doing so much for women to get into hiking.  I was impressed with the set up.  And from then I decided I would continuously come to these hiking groups.  I got along with the girls there, it was fantastic.  And the knowledge Chris shared – he was training us up as well.

“Personally for me, I was always outdoors.  I always played football, still do.  But I think a lot of the time that there’s an assumption that in some cultures and religions girls don’t want to go out to the countryside because they’ve not done it before and don’t have the confidence.  So I do think from a diversity and inclusion perspective, especially from ethnically diverse backgrounds, getting them involved into these groups and getting them out there is key.  I’ve got two teenagers daughters.  One loves sport, signs up to everything, but my eldest daughter did the Duke of Edinburgh.  The confidence it gave her, I was shocked because she’s normally not as active.

“I have definitely grown in confidence to go to the countryside and the great outdoors with my friends and family. I did Snowden with a random group of friends, and I kind of took lead on that.  I think it was down to the hiking mountaineering group that I’ve been involved with, and Chris, which allowed me to lead that group.  Motivation is key, you have to motivate people to keep going and Snowden is an amazing trek.  NEAT has made it possible to have that kind of outlook. Getting this additional funding will really help us unlock the great outdoors for many other people who otherwise might not get the chance to enjoy outdoor pursuits.”

The NHS Charities funding is being targeted at supporting work in tackling health inequalities across the area, through delivering grassroots help to those with long term health conditions and people most at risk or experiencing poor health outcomes and reduced life expectancy. The funding will also be targeted at reducing inequalities for people most affected by the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19.

North of England Activities and Training (NEAT) was established in 2004 to support Out of School Hours for young people (ages 11-25) and training for adult leaders of those activities. Most of the charity’s activities have run in West Yorkshire and Bradford in particular, with a very diverse range of young people, including some who are deaf. Shared interests have shown the potential to overcome differences between cultures and communities.

NHS Charities Together is the national charity caring for the NHS, for more information please visit https://www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/

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