It is Vital that we Open Up the Outdoors for People of Colour

Last year we came together with Opening Up The Outdoors (OUTO) to provide a tailored programme of support for people of colour working to diversify access to the natural world. 

The problem has not gone away, so this year we are back with a changemaker programme designed to provide the tools and the opportunity for changemakers across the UK to launch an organisation aiming to make the outdoors a more diverse, accessible and equitable space for all.

The programme offers skills support and development and mentoring to people of colour who are at the start of their journey and looking for advice and guidance on how to set up, launch and grow their social enterprise, business or organisation. 

Jade Baker, Co-Head of Programmes says, “What’s become abundantly clear in the past few years is how spending time outdoors is so important for our mental and physical wellbeing. But for a lot of people of colour from the UK, getting out in nature is not as easy and necessarily welcoming as it should be. 

“Whether that’s being made to feel like they simply don’t belong in the outdoors, hostility and discrimination from others, or simply lacking the confidence or networks to try something new, these are barriers that the changemakers we’re looking for on the programme can help to challenge.”

What's the Problem?

The issue of making the outdoors somewhere that could be accessed by all continues to be a challenge.

A study by Natural England found that nearly six in ten white people had visited the natural environment at least once a week over a 12 month period compared to four in ten people who were not white over the same period.

Similarly, a report revealed that people of colour are less likely to live within a 5-minute walk of a green space than people that identify as white (39% compared to 58%), less likely to report that there are good walking routes where they live (38% compared to 52%), and make up only 1% of visitors to National Parks.

A study by NatureScot found that although most people of colour visit the outdoors for recreation, the proportion who visit at least once a week is lower than average. Most of the outdoor visits taken by people of colour in Scotland are taken in towns and cities (62%) with fewer visits taken in the countryside (22%) or in coastal locations (16%).

Opening Up The Outdoors

The Opening Up the Outdoors Changemaker Programme is an initiative formed by outdoor brands and experts, allies and changemakers with a shared passion and love of the outdoors who are committed to creating momentum for the progression of continued inclusion within outdoor spaces. 

Last year’s successful pilot of the OUTO Changemaker Programme supported eight founders and changemakers working across the diverse outdoors space.

These included founders like Haroon Mota of Muslim Hikers, a grassroots initiative created to help empower Muslim communities to get outdoors more, Yvette Curtis whose Waves Wahines is on a mission to provide girls with affordable and supportive access to surfing, and Marlon Patrice, founder of We Go Outside Too, who supports intergenerational Black community members across Birmingham, the Black Country, and the West Midlands to take part in walking and holistic workshops.

The 2023 Changemaker Programme

The second Changemaker Programme starts in October 2023 and aims to support fifteen changemakers across the UK in their initiatives to further break these barriers to the outdoors down, and get more people from ethnically diverse communities participating in outdoor activity. 

Over three months, the changemakers will take part in a bespoke development programme, accessing mentoring and masterclasses to grow the impact, sustainability, and reach of their community group or business. They’ll then be able to apply for development grants of £1000 to invest directly into their organisation. 

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