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2020 Review of the Year

18th December 2020

As we get to the close of the year, we may well be glad to see the back of 2020.  However in this challenging year, we are proud of how Get Out More has adapted to the crisis, used its skills to support the many communities in which we work and enabled thousands of people to benefit from the power of nature to heal and recover.   Here’s what we’ve been up to this year:

JANUARY:  Volunteers helped us to develop two new Breathing Spaces booklets  featuring green spaces to visit in Bradford and Shipley. This project, funded by the BUPA Foundation,  shares ideas on how to slow down, de-stress, connect with nature and feel better. 8000 copies of the booklet have been distributed across Bradford and we will be running more  Breathing Spaces sessions with groups in 2021.

 

FEBRUARY:  Do you send your children to forest school and wonder what they’ve been up to all day? To reach out to more families we ran two free drop-in sessions in early spring and invited parents to join their children and experience the magic of a forest school session. Participants got involved with nature crafts, den building, whittling or just sitting around the campfire enjoying the beauty of the woodland.

 

MARCH As the first national lockdown began and children and families were cooped up at home, we encouraged people to get a daily dose of nature through our Nature On Our Doorstep campaign.  For 120 days we posted an idea-a-day across our social media, which reached over 120, 000 people with fresh inspiration to make the most of their daily exercise, such as writing nature poems, searching for animal tracks and building stick towers. All the ideas are still on our website, so take a look if you need inspiration on how to get out more.

 

APRIL: Our All for Play team switched roles from outdoor play to doorstep support workers during the crisis.   From very early in the lockdown period, our staff  were out and about in the Keighley Big Local area, helping the local food bank with deliveries and making sure vulnerable people got the support they needed, whether it was a pint of milk, play packs for the children or a friendly chat with isolated older people.  As the spring turned to summer we helped people feel connected through events such as socially distanced doorstep gardening and tea parties.

 

MAY: Thanks to funding from Healthy Holidays, we supported local schools with home learning and food delivery for children on free school meals.  Between May and July we packed up 516 activity boxes which were distributed to children from Parkwood and Riddlesden St Marys Primary Schools in Keighley.  The nature- and food-themed boxes included growing vegetables, fruit sculpture, bread baking and family pizza making activities.  They went down a storm!

 

JUNE: As the first lockdown eased and some children returned to school in June, we could resume some forest school sessions at last.  Ley Top Primary in Bradford is one of many schools turning to outdoor learning amidst the pandemic and as part of our Forest Pathways programme, we were able to run a forest school in their grounds for their Year 6 leavers and a CPD day for teachers to kick start the new term in September. The Forest Pathways programme, which is funded by Natural England, DEFRA and the Dept of Education is now back up to full strength and recruiting schools for next year.

 

JULY: The school holidays came around and after many months of time spent at home, with little to no contact with anyone outside their household, children emerged at Holiday Forest School sessions full of pent-up energy! We made a short film to show how we have adapted our practice to Covid 19 and all ten holiday forest school sessions in Bingley, Saltaire and Ilkley booked up within hours.   With revised procedures and reduced numbers to keep both staff and participants safe, we could enjoy zip wires, campfires, dens, rope swings and play games all summer long!

 

AUGUST: Things were really hotting up by the summer; funding from Bradford Healthy Activities Fund saw us cooking outside in residential areas throughout Keighley as well as providing ingredient packs for families to make the meals they tried at our sessions at home. Our Better Start Bradford family play sessions in Bradford started again, but rather than drop-in sessions, community groups referred families needing extra support to help them rediscover wellbeing through nature craft, fire building and cooking and outdoor activities with our practitioners.

 

SEPTEMBER: The reopening of nurseries in September brought the welcome return of The Forest School Play Project,  a partnership project with Better Start Bradford.  Groups of 3-year-olds from four nurseries enjoyed trips to the parks and woodlands with our practitioners Sam, Hazel and Julia.  Revised procedures ensured the safety of pupils, staff and practitioners, whilst allowing children the much-needed freedom to explore the wonderful outdoors.

 

OCTOBER: With an even greater interest in learning outdoors, we were were relieved to be able to run our forest school level 1 courses with Kindling training this autumn, strengthening people’s abilities to run outdoor projects themselves.  In total 12 teachers, early years workers and parents received Level 1 accreditation in forest school skills, with Level 3 programmes planned for next year.

 

NOVEMBER: The introduction of the tier system brought new restrictions, so we once again revised our sessions to ensure people could still participate but in a safe and socially distanced way. This meant that our usual All for Play woodland sessions for children in the Keighley Big Local area were replaced with street games and activity boxes for them to use at home, delivered through our Street Support programme funded by the National Lottery Community Fund’s Emergency Covid 19 funding.

 

DECEMBER: Our friends at Stronger Families help people back into work and training by supporting individuals and families in Bradford and Leeds. When all Christmas events had to be cancelled, the team asked Get Out More’s help to create winter wellbeing packs to help families through this difficult time.  We were happy to help and turned our empty office into an elves’ workshop packing up 133 festive nature craft boxes, with another 200 wellbeing packs planned for next year.

 

What a year!  A huge THANK YOU to our funders, partners, supporters, volunteers, practitioners and participants for everything you have done with us this year.  You keep us going and we are pleased to work with you all.

We wish you a happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.