A CHARITY that supports people to take up outdoor activities as a life-long pursuit to improve their health and well-being has expanded from its base in Capel Curig to cover the whole of Wales.

The Outdoor Partnership has appointed four new outdoor activities development officers to cover Mid and South Wales thanks to funding support from the Welsh Government’s Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being (ENRaW) Scheme.

ENRaW supports the development and delivery of projects that make clear links between improving the resilience of our natural resources and well-being.

Funding is provided through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Founded in North Wales for more than 15 years, The Outdoor Partnership expanded into Northern Ireland, Scotland and Cumbria in 2020

The charity’s new developments officers are Sioned Thomas for Swansea Bay Region, Brett Mahoney for Gwent, Bethan Logan for Mid Wales (Powys and Ceredigion) and Leila Connolly for Central South Wales.

They hope the success of Welsh and British competitors at this summer’s Olympic Games in Japan will inspire more people across Wales to get involved in sport and outdoor activities.

They will be supporting new and existing outdoor activity clubs to engage more people in activities ranging from sailing, climbing and walking.

The charity’s projects develop confidence, skills and team working to provide stepping stones to new opportunities and healthier lives. Through volunteering, education, participation, training and employment, it says there’s a place for everyone to change for good.

In the last 15 years, its projects have provided more than 100,000 outdoor activity opportunities for health and well-being, trained more than 4,000 volunteers, helped more than 500 unemployed people back into work, established more than 80 community outdoor clubs and groups with 7,000 plus participating members and provided sustainable opportunities for more than 1,000 disabled people.

The Outdoor Partnership’s mission is to improve opportunities for more people in Wales to achieve their potential through outdoor activities. 

Happy to be developing and expanding The Outdoor Partnership in Mid and South Wales, chief executive Tracey Evans said: “We have been helping people to improve their lives through participation in outdoor activities in North Wales for more than 15 years and last year expanded in to Northern Ireland, Ayrshire and Cumbria.

“It’s fantastic to now be developing services Wales-wide. Huge thanks to the Welsh Government’s Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being (ENRaW) Scheme for providing the financial support to allow this to happen.”

Excited by her new role in Swansea Bay Region, Sioned said: Following more than a year of lockdowns, lack of sporting events and competitions,  I think watching the Olympics has brought everyone back together and excited about sports again.

“I especially loved watching the new sports including climbing, surfing and skateboarding and I am hoping this will inspire a whole generation to start a new activity.”

Brett said:  “I’m eager to get stuck in and work with local providers, clubs and community groups to improve outdoor activity opportunities for the residents of Gwent.

“I hope that the introduction of sport climbing at the Olympics will inspire and encourage more local people to get into climbing and accessing the great outdoors. The health and wellbeing benefits are massive.”

Bethan says she is excited to be joining The Outdoor Partnership and plans to promote more opportunities for people in Mid Wales to get involved in outdoor activities.

“I hope everybody else was glued to their TV screens during the Olympics, inspired by home-grown athletes like Hannah Mills who have shown us what you can achieve,” she said.

“I loved watching sport climbing feature in the Olympics for the first time, in a pretty exciting format. Who knows, maybe the next Shauna Coxsey will come from this side of the border.

“Team GB didn’t bring home gold in climbing, nobody can touch Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret, but we couldn’t ask for a better role model for women and men in climbing.”

Leila says she’s grateful for the opportunity to work with The Outdoor Partnership to develop outdoor sports, clubs and activities in Wales.

“With the number of Welsh participants in this year’s Olympics, I think inspiration is sky high,” she added. “We can see Welsh athletes like Hannah Mills really scoring gold.

“I feel this Olympic success will continue to motivate the people of Wales in sport and, most importantly, improve access to have fun, explore and protect our famous green and coastal outdoor spaces.

“Hannah Mills started at Cardiff Sailing Club when she was just eight years old. It’s wondrous to be a part of an organisation that is working hard to open doors to the outdoors for all, because everyone needs the first door to be opened, just as Hannah Mills did.”