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NRW funded project is ‘Opening Doors to the Outdoors’ in Mid Wales

Bethan Logan from The Outdoor Partnership who will be managing the ‘Opening Doors to the Outdoors’ project.

THE HEALTH and wellbeing benefits of the great outdoors in Mid Wales are to be shared with groups of people who have health conditions and disabilities, thanks to investment in a new project.

The Outdoor Partnership has received £60,000 funding from the Resilient Communities Grant Programme run by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to deliver the ‘Opening Doors to the Outdoors’ project across Powys and Ceredigion.

The  project, which will enable even more people to access the green and blue spaces on their doorsteps, is particularly looking to reach people who may not have experienced the health and wellbeing benefits of the outdoors before.

The Outdoor Partnership is a charity that supports people to take up outdoor activities as a life-long pursuit to improve their health and well-being.

Building on a model that has successfully been deployed by the charity in North West Wales, ‘Opening Doors to the Outdoors’ aims to do what the project title says.

Project manager Bethan Logan, The Outdoor Partnership’s regional outdoor activities development officer, is excited by the challenge.

“The NRW grant will enable the projects which started as acorns of ideas to develop into fully grown oaks and give people in Mid Wales the opportunity to gain skills and confidence to get out there and explore,” she said. “Who knows where their journeys might lead beyond the project?”

She is keen to speak to people who work in the health and social care sector or with community groups who don’t currently access the outdoors. Contact Bethan at [email protected].

Sustainability is at the heart of the project, which has two strands. Community group leaders, support workers and healthcare practitioners, who already work with the target groups and are keen to introduce low level outdoor activities into their practice, will be offered training in outdoor leadership and first aid.

Bethan says important work that already goes on in the health and social care sector with highly skilled people can be easily enhanced with some basic outdoor skills to potentially provide long-lasting and cost-effective benefits to people within the groups and services.

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Higher level, more risky activities will be provided by outdoor professionals using their expert skills, training and equipment.

The second part of the project focuses on five intervention programmes for specific groups across Powys and Ceredigion, delivered by local outdoor activity providers.

There will be five programmes running over the next 12 months targeting different groups of people.

A 10-week hill walking programme in Newtown, between February and April, will help adults struggling with their mental health. The first five weeks is entry level, followed by five weeks at challenge level. Participants can sign up to one or both depending on their ability and confidence.

An Activity Programme in the Brecon and Ystradgynlais areas of South Powys, between February and April, will target adults with additional learning needs and or physical disabilities. There are 10 different activity sessions, including bushcraft, canoeing, off-road walking for the visually impaired, a mountain trike demo session and a navigation course.

Two 10-week summer programmes to help people struggling with their mental health are hill walking in North Powys and surf therapy in Ceredigion

There will also be a 10 week walking and mobility yoga programme in South Ceredigion this summer for those with low levels of physical activity due to chronic health conditions, injury or illness.

Programme providers already have many years’ experience delivering activities and working with the target groups. However, the NRW funding is providing additional training, such as first aid for mental health.

The Outdoor Partnership will be working with Bryn Walking, Gary Evans Outdoors, Manzoku Climbing and Mountaineering, Leanne Bird Wellbeing and Adventure and Tonic Surf to deliver the intervention programmes.