Working together since 2009, Gwalia (Pobl – @poblgroup) and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (@BreconBeaconsNP) have developed a series of outdoor projects which have enhanced the lives of those living in supported housing and outreach clients.
One of the first initiatives was Brecon Beacons Community Champions which, with funding from NRW (Natural Resources Wales @NatResWales), supported young people in outdoor activity training. Participants all achieved their Bronze National Navigation Scheme Award (@nass_office) and went on to independently arrange and take part in their own choice of activities.
The activity projects so inspired the service users from the Brecon Foyer (Gwalia) they formed a local committee and constituted themselves as a group. The aims of the group were to provide inclusive and accessible activities and learning opportunities through anti discriminatory practice, to improve the image of young people and to increase awareness of issues affecting them. The group has since successfully gone on to secure funding for projects including an educational trip to Auschwitz following a project on Jewish History; a residential outdoor activity trip to Devon; visits to London and Rome and a healthy living project.
Further joint projects have included Geocaching Development 2010-12, Rural Skills 2012- 2014, Park Pathways 2014, Mental Health and Wellbeing Day 2015 and most recently Awards for All funding which has enabled the 2016/17 Rural Skills training programme to go ahead. This project has been hugely successful with all participants successfully achieving Agored Cymru (@AgoredCymru) accreditation in Outdoor Skills, Cutting docks, brambles,hedges and Practical Woodland Skills.
The combination of training and increased confidence in participants has been inspirational and resulted in the following outcomes: 1 individual has gained full time employment;
4 individuals have engaged with and participated in the BBNPA/Princes Trust (@PrincesTrustWales) Get into the Brecon Beacons programme including a two-week “Get Into” programme and Explore Enterprise, 2 individuals successfully recruited onto the BBNPA/ Princes Trust partnership Get Into the Brecon Beacons 3-months work programme as Trainee Rangers – see ITV Wales coverage of the trainees here.
Matt Baker and the team from BBC Countryfile (@BBCCountryfile) joined the group on a Geocaching activity day to discover how accessing the natural environment with a little bit of new technology can trigger new ways of keeping active and improve mental wellbeing.
Inside Housing (@insidehousing) followed on from the television coverage and produced this article highlighting how Housing Support can enrich lives beyond just tenancy support.
The enthusiasm, participation and progression of everyone engaged in these projects demonstrates the potential this work has to make a significant difference to the ways in which socially excluded groups view, access and derive socio-economic benefit from the outdoor environment.
In summary these locally focused projects have been developed by both partners to give the best possible support to young disadvantaged people living in both urban and rural areas of the Brecon Beacons National Park to help increase their access to education, employment and training opportunities.