2021 Review of the Year
13th December 2021
Many people have turned to nature in response to the pandemic, so 2021 has been another busy year for Get Out More as we support people to get outdoors in all sorts of creative, social and adventurous ways. Here’s some of the many things that we’ve been up to this year:
Get Out More team started the year helping YorGreen CIC plant hundreds of trees in the Aire Valley, part of a planting scheme stretching from sites in the Dales to Keighley to help mitigate against flooding and combat climate change. After long spells working from home, it was great to work together again in the fresh air. Staff combining work with home schooling were pleased to rope in their children to help too!
The Better Start Bradford family play sessions in parks continued in an adapted way, with our practitioners working 1:1 with Bradford families who needed some support during the long weeks of lockdown. Parents of young children welcomed the opportunity to get outdoors with the children and learn some ways to be active outdoors in winter. Further families were given activity packs with ideas for how to make the most of free natural resources to promote learning and wellbeing when stuck indoors.
After months of postponements, we were relieved to finally be able to start our new ESF-funded course, Outdoor Futures, which aimed to support unemployed people into work and training in the outdoor sector. Ten trainees met weekly to develop outdoor skills and visit and help at local outdoor projects such as the Aire Rivers Trust. Many of our trainees have gone onto the further training, volunteering and work – and can be found helping at our own holiday forest schools. We hope to run Outdoor Futures again in 2022
Beds full of strawberries, beans and potatoes, as well as hanging baskets and herbs started to pop up on the streets of Woodhouse in Keighley. We have been working with older residents since the beginning of the pandemic and knew that the ongoing restrictions were having an impact. Edible Streets, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, enabled residents to join together in group gardening, harvesting and cooking sessions, helping develop new friendships and a sense of community pride.
Wellbeing Wednesday sessions began in May and are now a solid fixture of the Get Out More calendar, thanks to funding from Keighley Community Health Grants. Open to anyone, these weekly sessions at Cliffe Castle in Keighley are an opportunity for adults to relax and connect with nature through fun outdoor activities such as natural art, foraging and Tai Chi. We are working with social prescribers from local GP practices to refer patients to our wellbeing sessions, as a positive alternative to costly medical interventions.
We welcomed our first placement, Lauryn Hunt, who joined us as a Support Practitioner as part of the government’s Kickstart scheme to help young people into work. Lauryn completed her Forest School Level 1 course with us in June, then was able to put her skills into practice supporting Get Out More sessions across Bradford. We are currently hoping to recruit another Kickstart placement in early 2022.
Why take our word for it that Get Out More projects make a difference, when you can hear it from the participants themselves? Video charity Lippy People helped us tell our story through a short film which we launched in July. This year we started to collect data to evidence the impact we make and these statistics, along with the views of some of our participants, partners and trainees, all help us promote the idea that its worth getting out more with us. You can find the film on our website.
It was a busy summer of fun with holiday activities throughout August. We once again took part in the Healthy Activities and Food programme funding by Dept for Education through Bradford Council, ensuring all children can benefit from enriching activities and healthy food over the holidays. The woodland sessions offered a feast of campfire-cooked food, healthy salads and sandwiches as well as active nature-based play. Our forest schools in Bingley, Saltaire and Ilkley were also popular – over 200 places sold out in a matter of hours, proving these holiday programmes have lost none of their magic since we started them over 10 years ago.
“I’ve enjoyed every single minute.” In September, teachers and parents from Riddlesden St Marys Primary had a wonderful time making swings, spotting barn owls and learning about child-led play. Get Out More began running accredited forest school training this year, delivering Kindling Training’s Forest School Level 1 course in Yorkshire. 38 people completed their Level 1 training with us in 2021, helping more adults start their forest school journey.
Staff from Our Lady and St Brendan’s Primary were out in the field learning how to run forest schools with minimal resources in October, part of a range of support for schools in the Forest Pathways engagement programme, which aims to establish and sustain forest schools in Bradford schools, (funded by Dept for Education & DEFRA, managed by Natural England). Meanwhile also in Forest Pathways, staff from primary, secondary, special schools and PRUs completed their level 3 training with Kindling Training this month and will soon be fully fledged practitioners able to run forest school sessions in their own right at their setting.
3-year-olds from four Bradford nurseries are exploring Bradford parks and woodlands this autumn, in the Forest School Play Project, part of the Better Start Bradford programme to improve outcomes for young children in BD3, BD4 and BD5. Some early snow created much excitement, and the children could take it in their stride, thanks to the new waterproofs and footwear that the nurseries have invested in to help them continue to help children from urban areas to have more nature-based experiences.
After all that hard work, Get Out More staff and practitioners had a deserved afternoon off to celebrate another year of getting out more. Christmas parties have been in the news for the wrong reasons but we were pleased to have booked an all-outdoor activity with one of our freelance practitioners, Joe Drury from Within the Wood near Stanbury. We enjoyed some competitive archery and axe throwing before the light faded and we gathered around a beautiful campfire for food and singing.
Well done everyone! We would like to express our gratitude to all our participants, volunteers, practitioners, funders, partners and supporters for your ongoing support. We look forward to working with your again in 2022
We wish you a happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.