What's happening with People and the DALES

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BUILDING NEW SKILLS AND CONFIDENCE

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A group of volunteers came together in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales to learn new skills as they got to grips with the traditional craft of dry stone walling.

 

Disabled people and their family and friends worked together to rebuild a badly damaged section of dry stone wall near Selside, through a partnership initiative run by local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) and the not-for-profit community interest company Experience Community.

 

Under the guidance of experienced wallers from Natural England’s Ingleborough National Nature Reserve, the volunteers learnt how to select, shape and position stones to construct a straight and level dry stone wall, and to add ‘fill’ to the central cavity to provide strength and stability.

 

Rugged ‘Mountain Trikes’ – all terrain outdoor wheelchairs with lightweight aluminium frames, lever drive and chunky off-road tyres – enabled the whole group to access the damaged wall and get stuck in with the repair work.

 

Among the participants were Amanda and her family from Lincoln. Amanda said: “None of us have ever done anything like this before. It has been a lovely day, and so nice to get together with other people who share similar interests.”

 

Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers, and with regular ongoing maintenance, this dry stone wall could stand for another hundred years, playing a crucial role in managing livestock and offering shelter and habitat for a wide variety of animals, birds and plants.

 

Craig Grimes, Director of Experience Community, said: “This session was part of a three day activity programme designed to give disabled people a chance to access the countryside and experience something new with their friends and families. It has been partly funded by a grant of £5,000 from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund, which allowed me to purchase another Mountain Trike and will help to fund a series of 18 sessions.”

 

The session was facilitated by YDMT through the ‘People and the DALES’ project, which aims to provide opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged children and adults to experience the countryside through activities such as walks, farm visits, conservation work and crafts.

 

Gail Smith, Community Worker at YDMT, said: “This was a first for all involved, and really pushed the boundaries in terms of enabling disabled people to reach less accessible parts of the Yorkshire Dales countryside and take part in physically demanding conservation activities. I think it was a huge success, and it was made possible thanks to infectious enthusiasm and determination of Craig at Experience Community, the fantastic all-terrain wheelchairs, and support from our friends at Natural England.”

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Lambs receive a helping hand

A group of young people from Leeds recently traded the bright lights of the city for the fresh air and rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Dales when they spent an exciting day learning the ropes of hill farming during the busy lambing period.

Youngsters aged 11-14 from Burley Park Pupil Referral Unit in Leeds spent a memorable day volunteering with Dales’ farmer Rodney Beresford, assisting with herding, tagging and marking the new-born lambs on his land at the foot of Ingleborough.

One of the participants was twelve-year old Paris. This was the first time she’d had the opportunity to take part in a school trip, and she fully enjoyed the experience. Paris said: “It’s been great fun – I wish I could take a lamb home in my pocket! Everyone should try this.”

The event was organised by local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) as part of their pioneering outreach project ‘People and the DALES’ which aims to provide disadvantaged groups from urban areas with opportunities to enjoy and experience the health and well-being benefits of spending time in the natural environment of the Yorkshire Dales.

It is one of many stimulating events that have been made possible thanks to a recent donation of £3,000 from the David Brooke Charity to support the life-changing work of ‘People and the DALES’.

 

The David Brooke Charity was established by the late David Brooke, grandson of Arthur Brooke who started Brooke Bond Tea, with the aim of supporting disadvantaged children and young adults.

 

David Brooke’s son Nigel, who now runs the charity, joined the group from Burley Park Pupil Referral Unit to help on the farm. Nigel said: “It has been very worthwhile coming out to see how the young people are benefiting from YDMT’s work in this beautiful part of the country. I was very impressed by the way the group got stuck in helping with the lambs, and happy to see how much they seemed to enjoy taking part in this valuable experience.”

Judy Rogers, Community Worker at YDMT, said: “Our days out lambing are some of the most rewarding in our annual calendar, and we’re very grateful to the David Brooke Charity for making these events possible this year. Everybody enjoys handling the lambs, watching Rodney at work and learning about farming. Being in the outdoors lifts everyone’s moods and at the same time we can lend a hand. Such magical and memorable experiences are what this project is all about.”

The ‘People and the DALES’ project encourages people from disadvantaged and urban backgrounds to experience the Dales through activities such as walks, farm visits, conservation work and crafts.

Yorkshire’s Finest Flowers for an Extraordinary Yorkshire Mum

Instead of giving a bunch of cut flowers this Mother’s Day, one local charity is leading the way by dedicating an area of living hay meadow, jam-packed with native wildflowers, as a lasting tribute for an extra special mum.

Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) decided to surprise Rose McCarthy, mother of five and National Childbirth Trust’s antenatal teacher and national streams co-ordinator for the City of Sanctuary in Leeds.

YDMT presented Rose with this special gift in recognition of all her hard work and commitment to the new mums, pregnant women, babies and toddlers who have been displaced from their homelands and are now living in Leeds as refugees and asylum seekers.

Gail Smith, Community Worker at YDMT, said: “Through the ‘People and the DALES’ project we aim to give disadvantaged urban groups a day of respite in the Yorkshire Dales countryside, and hopefully the inspiration to spend more time outdoors in local green spaces. Community group leaders like Rose work tirelessly to provide support and friendship for disadvantaged individuals each day, and we feel privileged to be able to provide some assistance by leading fun and thought-provoking events.”

People and the DALES events provide opportunities for people to learn new skills, develop confidence, form friendships and experience the health and well-being benefits of being outdoors in the countryside. In many cases a simple walk, conservation activity, or craft event in the Yorkshire Dales can be an important turning point on the road to better mental and physical health.

Rose said: “I am thrilled to receive this Living Bouquet gift from YDMT. It is a little reminder of the lives we have already helped to change through our work together, and hopefully a symbol of many more successes to come. I have been delighted to see both the mums and children flourish on our days out in the Dales with YDMT. Mums leave their troubles behind, play with their children, compare life in the English countryside with life back home and smile. It gives them hope that life can be better, and is fantastic for their mental health.”

Giving a Living Bouquet will help to safeguard threatened wildflower hay meadows and the wildlife they sustain by supporting YDMT’s ongoing education and conservation work across the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland.

Order your Living Bouquet gift pack for £25 at www.ydmt.org/LivingBouquet or call YDMT on 015242 51002.

Skills for the Hills

People and the DALES ran a Hill Skills Training Weekend to provide a practical introduction to the safety and navigation skills required for independent hill walking.

 

Based at Malham Tarn Field Centre, the course followed the new Hill Skills course syllabus launched by Mountain Training England (MTE) in April this year.

 

Thanks to financial support from MTE, a group of eight people who work alongside disadvantaged community groups in urban areas attended the course. All the participants had previously enjoyed a visit to the Yorkshire Dales with YDMT through the charity’s People and the DALES outreach project, and this was a chance to build their confidence and learn the skills necessary to enjoy the countryside safely and independently in the future.

 

The delegates represented a variety of organisations supporting black, minority and ethnic (BME) groups: Sharing Voices (a mental health charity from Bradford working within the Asian community), Bradford NHS Stop Smoking Campaign, Keighley NHS Community, Frizinghall Primary School in Bradford and Blackburn YMCA.

 

The group were instructed by Cat Forster – a fully qualified Mountaineering Instructor who led the course thanks to funding from Mountain Training England. Under Cat’s guidance the group learnt about the importance of planning, walking skills, clothing and equipment, the impact of the weather, navigation skills, environmental knowledge, hazards and emergency procedures in the hills.

 

Cat said: “It was a huge pleasure to run the Hill Skills course with the group brought together by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust. We covered all the elements of the new Hill Skills course, nationally accredited by Mountain Training, which aims to give people confidence in planning walks, navigating and understanding the equipment required to stay safe and enjoy a day in the hills. Everyone in the group showed a good understanding of all the different aspects of the course and I hope they all go on to enjoy more fantastic days out in the Yorkshire Dales and further afield.”

 

Andy Say from Mountain Training England said: “Mountain Training England (MTE), along with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), have long recognised that there is a relatively low level of participation in hillwalking and climbing from the BME communities. There are a wide variety of factors at play but it is recognised that the lack of ‘social capital’ in the form of community experience and expertise of hillwalking may play a part. The BMC and MTE put in a bid to Sport England for funding to support a variety of initiatives and this course was a direct result of that funding being used to try to develop confidence and skills within the BME community.   We are delighted by the success of the course and hope to see the participants out there on the hills using their new skills and knowledge.”

 

At the end of the two-day course, all the participants were awarded the official Hills Skills accreditation – a nationally recognised qualification signalling their competence in hill walking.

 

Judy Rogers, Community Worker at YDMT, added: “This is an excellent course, both for those who have already done some map work, and for those with no previous experience. Cat was a fabulous trainer and excellent at getting information over in a fun and engaging way, ensuring that everyone enjoyed the weekend and got a lot out of the course. It helped to build confidence and individual skills, and inspired many of the group to use maps in the future and put their new skills into practice to enable them to access and enjoy the countryside independently and safely in the future.”

 

Gift your Gear

Do you have unwanted but usable outdoor gear sitting around? Why not ‘Gift your Gear’ by taking it along to your nearerst Rohan shop during March and groups like PaD will put them to good use! People and the DALES are very proud to be one of this years beneficiary organisations.

We have a wonderful stock of waterproof coats, trousers and fleeces thanks to a previous years collection and we set up a waterproof coat library with a group in Bradford who are doing lots of walking with their clients.

This year we are hoping to benefit from some smaller sizes to support our work with young people together with a stock of rucksacks for people to use on PaD events.

Find out more about Gift your Gear here

Refugees enjoy art in the Dales

Mums, pregnant women, babies and toddlers displaced from their homelands and now living in Leeds enjoyed a family day out in Malham with local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT).

This eclectic group of refugees and asylum seekers from countries including Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Russia and Nigeria have been brought together through the National Childbirth Trust’s (NCT) Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond Group based at Choto Moni Children’s Centre in Leeds.

The group enjoyed a gentle stroll to Malham Cove, shared a picnic lunch and played nature-based games before returning to the village to visit local artist Katharine Holmes to see her exhibition of paintings inspired by the Yorkshire Dales landscape, which were on display as part of the North Yorkshire Open Studios trail. The day was finished off with tea and cakes in Katharine’s garden.

Rose McCarthy, NCT Antenatal Teacher, said: “I have been delighted to see both the mums and children flourish in Malham. They leave their troubles behind, play with their children, compare life in the English countryside with life back home and smile. It gives them hope that life can be better, and is fantastic for their mental health. In the wave of anti-immigration that is flooding the nation it was really touching to see local people from Malham waving as we went by, and to be invited into Katharine’s home for afternoon tea was simply delightful. It restored my faith in humanity.”

Katharine Holmes added: “I enjoy meeting people from different places and backgrounds, it really enriches life. The visit to my home today by refugee mothers, babies and toddlers was a real pleasure. I hope that the families have as happy memories of the visit as I do and in a very small way it helps carry them forward in the new lives they are making here.”

The event was organised by YDMT as part of their pioneering outreach project ‘People and the DALES’, thanks to a recent grant of £1000 from the Sovereign Health Care Charitable Trust which was given to YDMT to enable refugees and asylum seekers to access and enjoy the Yorkshire Dales countryside.

Gail Smith, Community Worker at YDMT, said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to Katharine Holmes for welcoming us into her home, and to the Sovereign Health Care Charitable Trust for their generous funding which made this lovely, positive day possible. It was great to be able to offer this group of refugees and asylum seekers the chance to enjoy Malham and the Open Studios art trail, and it seems very apt that this week is also Refugee Week in the UK.”

Refugee Week (16-22 June) is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary.

PaD at BMC Equity Symposium

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The People and the DALES team recently joined a host of other people at the BMC (British Mountaineering Council) Equity Symposium at Haworth YHA. The weekend brought together people from diverse and in particular black and minority ethnic (BME) communities and others (like ourselves) who are interested in helping these groups access the outdoors. PaD ran a workshop sharing our experiences and made some really interesting contacts and connections. It was great to see some of our community group leaders enjoying the event and for us all take part in some interesting and thought provoking workshops.

 

Launch of new People and the DALES handbook

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A new handbook full of inspiration, information and practical hints and tips is now available to encourage groups and individuals who wouldn’t normally visit the Yorkshire Dales countryside to do so under their own steam.

The handbook has been produced by local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT), and brings together a wealth of knowledge and experience gained through running the pioneering education and outreach project ‘People and the DALES’.

This comprehensive handbook provides practical advice about how to plan a visit and stay safe in the countryside, along with travel information and navigation tips. The handbook also includes tried and tested suggestions for inspiring days out, along with a set of eight recommended walks guides, complete with detailed directions, points of interest and Ordnance Survey maps.

Disadvantaged groups across the region are already using the handbook to help them get out and about in the countryside under their own steam, to enjoy the natural beauty of the Yorkshire Dales.

Jenny Powell is a community development worker for African & Caribbean communities at Sharing Voices, a mental health organisation in Bradford that has been involved in the People and the DALES project over several years. On receiving a copy of the handbook Jenny commented: “I just wanted to say thank you for the booklet…it looks fabulous. It shows just how much hard work you have done and just how diverse the groups accessing the Dales have been. The handbook is a good size, easy to handle, full of great information, easy to read and colourful which makes you want to pick it up and look at it.”

Gail Smith, community worker at YDMT, added: “The handbook is the culmination and a celebration of all the work we have done over the last 4 years helping people from disadvantaged groups get out and enjoy the beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Dales. We hope that the handbook, along with our website, will mean many more people can enjoy a breath of fresh Dales air for themselves, giving them new experiences, opportunities to improve their health and well-being and a chance to enjoy that ‘something special’ that the Dales has to offer.”

A limited number of copies of the handbook are still available (donations welcome ). For all enquiries please contact YDMT on 015242 51002 or email info@peopleandthedales.org

We are also able to offer visits to groups this year thanks to continued support directly from YDMT. Events are booking up fast so please get in touch if you would like to organise a visit for your group. Contact us at info@peopleandthedales.org or phone Judy or Gail here at YDMT on 015242 51002.

People and the DALES gets national recognition

The People and the DALES team joined a whole host of other Access to Nature projects in Birmingham recently for a celebration of the work that has taken place thanks to the Big lottery funding.

Rose and the PaD team receive the award from John Craven

Rose and the PaD team receive the award from John Craven

The PaD team were one of just 4 projects asked to present at the event which gave us a fantastic opportunity to share the experiences of some of our many participants and celebrate some of the many project successes.

The event also played host to the Access to Nature Volunteer Awards, to honour the contributions of the thousands of volunteers who have been involved in the Access to Nature programme since it was launched by Natural England in 2007 with the aim of encouraging more people to enjoy the outdoors.

Our very own Rose McCarthy from Leeds was nominated for the ‘commitment and dedication’ award by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) for her voluntary work at Choto Moni Children’s Centre in Leeds where she runs antenatal classes and postnatal support groups for pregnant refugee and asylum seeking women, and for her work at the Refugee Council where she trains volunteers to become ‘befrienders’ for pregnant refugees and asylum seekers.

Commenting on receiving the award, Rose McCarthy said:”I was really touched to receive the Access to Nature Award. Through this project not only have the asylum seeking and refugee families I work with been introduced to the beautiful English countryside, they also experienced the welcoming and inclusive nature of People and the Dales. We have been moved to see that strangers care and that those ‘strangers’ can become friends.”

In 2009 Rose teamed up with YDMT’s outreach programme People and the DALES to offer her groups the chance to visit the Yorkshire Dales and experience the health and well-being benefits of the great outdoors.  Community workers at YDMT organised visits to accessible beauty spots in the Dales for groups of mums, babies and toddlers from Choto Moni. Visits often comprised of a gentle walk to explore Malham Cove or Malham Tarn, a picnic and a local art exhibition.

Judy Rogers, People and the DALES community worker at YDMT, said: “We were thrilled to hear the news that Rose had won the ‘commitment and dedication’ award at the Access to Nature Volunteer Awards. Rose has been volunteering for more than 25 years and, having given almost 4000 hours of her time to help women in need, has formed countless lasting friendships. She is a worthy winner and we are delighted to have been able to provide expertise and transport funding to allow groups from Choto Moni the chance to access the countryside, often for the first time, through the People and the DALES project.”

Elizabeth Holdsworth, Access to Nature Grants Adviser, commented: “I’m really thrilled that Rose has won an Access to Nature Volunteer Award. People and the DALES has been an incredibly successful project and volunteers like Rose really do make a difference in helping other people break down the barriers to accessing our wonderful countryside. Huge congratulations to Rose and all the team at People and the DALES for this national recognition.”

Welcome to our new website

Our new website has been launched to help groups and individuals who wouldn’t normally visit the Yorkshire Dales to do so under their own steam by providing inspiration, information and practical hints and tips about how to access the countryside.

Visitors to the website will find information about how to travel to the Dales via public transport and comprehensive guides to help with planning a visit, keeping safe and navigating in the countryside. There is also a growing collection of downloadable walks complete with detailed directions, points of interest and Ordnance Survey maps, and a ‘walk of the month’ chosen to show the Dales at its best and most beautiful whatever the time of year.

The new website, www.peopleandthedales.org, is the culmination of four years’ work by local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) of taking groups out in the Dales through running the pioneering education and outreach project ‘People and the DALES’.

Through the project 4750 people from disadvantaged urban backgrounds have been given the opportunity to enjoy the health and well-being benefits of spending time in the Yorkshire Dales countryside, often for the first time.

Dave Tayler, deputy director at YDMT, said: “We are very proud of what we’ve achieved through People and the DALES so far and hope that the new website will be a valuable tool for groups and individuals to use for many years to come, acting as a lasting legacy of the project. As well as being packed with useful information, the website also features lots of lovely photos which we hope will really inspire people to get out into the Yorkshire Dales.”

The website was unveiled at a recent celebration event held at Bradford’s Cartwright Hall Art Gallery to discover exactly how the participants, including homeless support projects, young carers, black and Asian minority ethnic groups, refugees and people with learning difficulties or physical disabilities, have benefitted from taking part in the project.

During the course of the event, guests witnessed the unveiling of the new website and heard first-hand accounts of the life-changing impact the project has had on some of the participants, many of whom had not previously had the confidence to access and enjoy the countryside on their doorstep.

Through activities such as dry stone walling, farming and conservation, gardening, arts and crafts or simply a relaxing walk, individuals from traditionally hard-to-reach groups have gained new skills and experiences, forged new friendships and often developed a passion for the great outdoors.

Commenting on the benefits of being involved in the People and the DALES project, Kate Ferguson, Advocacy Support Worker at Solace, a Leeds’-based charity which provides psychotherapy, complementary therapies and advocacy support to the survivors of persecution and exile living in the Yorkshire and Humber region, said: “A day in the Dales is worth hours and hours of counselling”.

Dave Tayler added: “It was a very positive and emotional event highlighting the powerful impact of the project particularly on people’s health and well-being. It was also a chance to explore possibilities for the future with our friends and partners, as we develop the project in the future to widen and increase these health benefits.’’

The project has been supported by many partners including Access to Nature, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Fields Studies Council and Yorkshire Dales Society.

Natural England, who awarded £197,000 to the project in 2009 as part of its Access to Nature programme (funded by £28.75m from the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme), is one of the project’s biggest advocates.

Elizabeth Holdsworth, Access to Nature Grants Adviser, commented: “It was such a positive experience to be involved in the recent evaluation day for People and the DALES and see the launch of their new website, which is an excellent resource. People and the DALES have a well-deserved reputation for delivering quality experiences for everyone involved and this is no exception. I hope that it will be used by many different groups and individuals to explore the wonderful Yorkshire Dales.”

Find out what else is happening at YDMT