I write a lot about connecting to nature. The positive impacts on health and well-being are well-rehearsed. Connecting is a verb. It requires action. And research tells us that the 5 best actions to connect to nature are: Using our… Read More »
Lockdown is hard. Harder than the summer. Let’s not pretend that it isn’t. Some of the challenges are common to us all. Others are unique to our own homes and families. And we don’t all have the same capacity to… Read More »
YHA strategic priority is to ensure access, inclusion and diversity across all of our work. To ensure that our charitable resources are for all.
To be certain that access for all means all — that those who stay with us, benefit from our provision and support, our employees and volunteers, reflect the demographics of England and Wales.
Key Performance Indicator from YHA Strategy 10 Year Strategy; Adventure for the first time and for a lifetime
And this indicator for success includes our trustee board. Trustees set the strategic direction for a charity and are responsible for the organisation’s assets. Recruiting new trustees is an important part of charity success and ensuring that trustees have both a rounded skill set and diverse lived experiences are repeatedly evidenced as factors in charity effectiveness. Diversity, access, inclusion and equity are not just morally right they are business critical.
I love this picture. 7 year old seeing the sea for first time after lockdown. Absolute freedom. And very wet trainers 20 seconds later.
Trips matter. Experiences matter. Stays away from home matter. It matters that we live on an island and thousands of children reach secondary school having never seen the sea. Yes really.
So as the Department for Education allows day activities and trips but continues to stress the absolute priority for ‘academic catch-up’; and some schools are having to narrow their academic curriculum because of the resources needed to support social distancing; with government guidance still advising against residentials – what can we do to ensure that the gap in experiences between those who have easy access and those that don’t doesn’t continue to increase?
It’s devastating to know that over 500,000 young people are missing out on their first residential this year. And as much as parents across the globe have taken on the task of home schooling, it’s safe to say that outdoor learning is going to be a part of the recovery for children and young people as we move back to a more ‘normal’ way of life. In the meantime though, it’s important that we engage them with colourful ideas for planning future adventures, connect them with wildlife and excite them with endless possibilities to explore the world around them.
We are now just over a month into the lockdown and two months since the Coronavirus started to dominate every aspect of our lives.
I have written here about the what this means for YHA strategy in this piece on Strategy in an Unknown Future and on the charity’s increasing relevance in helping recovery as families are clear on the importance of the outdoors and holidays to their well-being.
But ahead of longer term planning I want to take some time to reflect on YHA’s work over recent weeks. Because – I say with clear bias – it has been an astounding effort true to both our charity values but also our position as a successful and strong social enterprise.
Job titles are tricky sometimes. I am Executive Director of Strategy and Engagement at YHA. Kind of long, little bit poncey and nobody understands it. It needs work.
It is – I have discovered over the years in various roles – particularly challenging to describe the strategy bit. For some it’s combining the vision of the ideal with the art of the possible. For others it’s the dark arts.
Outdoor adventures. From running away from waves to climbing a mountain; to noses in the mud following a worm to the first time you fell out of a tree. For many of us our most vivid childhood memories come from exploring outdoors. And the benefits of the outdoors are well evidenced. On health and well being, On learning. On creativity, resilience and ‘character’. And just for fun.
But also – and yes it is dramatic input – our survival as a species requires the next generation to be connected to the planet; to the outdoors, to nature and to the environment. But access to the outdoors is not equitable. Money, access, fear of risk, disability – many things stand in the way. And we know it is often those who might benefit the most from adventure in the outdoors that have the least opportunity to benefit from its powers.