Outdoor activities for pleasure, education and as a
Ethnic communities in Scotland have relatively low levels of exploration in terms of engagement with the built and natural environment. They are often unaware of what environmental organisations have to offer. Various staff in the environment sector have a lack of knowledge and experience of working with ethnic community groups. The Education and Employment Opportunities in the Outdoors Project aimed to promote awareness of employment opportunities, such as becoming outdoor activity instructors and educators. The project also aimed to increase the social inclusion and participation of ethnic communities and groups within the natural environment.
Making it happen
Black Environment Network (BEN) worked with the Multicultural Family Basein
Edinburgh to create opportunities for young people from ethnic communities to
experience challenging outdoor sports and activities. Eight Sikh, Muslim and
Scottish white boys between 10-15 years of age spent a day with professional
outdoor activity instructors and educators at East Neuk Outdoors Centrenear
Stimulating interest, sustaining involvement
The course content covers the key elements needed for effective and sustainable partnership work with ethnic community groups. Participants learn how to identify ways of proactively reaching out and stimulating ethnic groups to take part in environmental and heritage activities. They also learn how to maintain interest and sustain ongoing development of ethnic community participation. The modules are action oriented and have led many participants to develop their work with ethnic communities. For example, last year, BEN delivered its Diversity Training to employees of the Forestry Commission and Forest Enterprise in South Lanarkshire. They are now planning further action.
Making connections with people and nature
The project provided a platform for staff to engage with the young people,
giving them practical experience of the environment and a chance to connect
socially and culturally with the landscape, greenbelt areas and nature in rural
The boys were not used to long journeys and felt a little travel sick on the way to Anstruther, but the weather was good and they all said they benefited greatly from their trip. The strenuous unaccustomed exercise left the group tired, but they gained new environmental awareness, outdoor skills and confidence in team work, risk assessment, safety and first aid. They also learnt about the role of a canoeing and kayaking instructor.
All the participants said they would like to join similar activities in the future. In addition, they would recommend these outdoor activities to their friends and families. The project stimulated their interest in skills development and employment opportunities. Other community groups in Scotland have also expressed interest in being part of a similar project in the future. In particular, Multicultural Family Basehave said they would like to work with BEN again to set up a similar project for a group of girls.
This Features is available as a PDF files to download and print.
Education and Employment Opportunities in the Outdoors