Outdoor Families Wild Walks

The Outdoor Family Wild Walks  project helps children in East London to take their families on local adventures!! Here we discover the (nearly) wild spaces nearby with places to play, to be active and de-stress.

Less than 10% of visits to parks and green spaces are with children, and yet every London child lives within 15 minutes walk of a park!* 1 in 7 children in the capital NEVER go to a green space to play!* In the year that London becomes the world's first National Park City, we want to re-ignite a love of adventure and nature in the families of East London, making it easy to get into a daily habit of outdoor play, a weekly habit of discovering small adventures and to feel confident about having even bigger adventures, exploring further afield.

Last year we had a small grant to start this project, and since then over 50 families have come on small adventures with us. But the grant is coming to an end and we desperately want to keep going, helping the families we've come to know, their friends and neighbours and more communities across East London to discover our beautiful and green city!

We are raising money to:
- Sustain our monthly walks as free experiences, open to all 
- Provide families on low incomes with wellies and waterproofs, so weather isn't a barrier!
- Train up volunteers so we can make the walks every two weeks!

We are also starting to fundraise for Outdoor Family Camping , which will take families on benefits for their first camping experience and give them the skills (and kit) to go by themselves.

As well as helping children be healthier and happier, through going outdoors in groups both parents and children make new friends – and if your friends go outdoors, you are more likely to go too! 

We need help to

·      Buy wellies and waterproofs (60% of parents that joined previous Wild Walks said that not having a raincoat/wellies stopped them going outdoors!)

·      Print a local green space and play places map to distribute to parents (Not knowing where to go is another big barrier!)

·      Make Outdoor Journals to encourage families to record, work towards more outdoors time and share their experiences (research tells us how much more likely we are to do something if we write it down!)

And we need help to publicise the adventures to the families that go out the least... so funds to help our project worker go to school parent's evenings, to put adverts in local papers and yes to boost a facebook post... any ideas very welcome!

You can find out more about our Wild Walks on our Outdoor People website. Visit: https://outdoorpeople.org.uk/family-wild-walks-2018 

Why do we need this?

22% of Hackney families live in overcrowded housing. Air pollution rates are far higher than average. Playing in the street was normal up until less than one generation ago, but now you walk around the closed off streets and pocket parks Hackney and the sound that is missing is children playing. Low income children have NINE times less access to green space than their wealthier peers. 1 in 7 of London’s children NEVER go to a green space. 

In Hackney 68% of our children have easy access to some sort of green space, most are within a five minute walk, but simply never go there. Why not? Parents tell us its the weather, time pressure, they don't know where to go, just don't think about it...

Yet being outdoors, and especially playing outdoors, reduces stress, improves mental health, means both children and adults are more active, they make more friends and are happier*.

If you want to know more, why not pop into the shop to discuss it? Suffice to say anyone who has lived in Hackney or anywhere in North or East London will tell you that they used to play outdoors.... but children now don't. Traffic has gone up - but not speeds of traffic, and there are just as many parks and many of them are safer. Whilst there are pockets of serious issues, overall crime is about the same or less than 30 years ago. The weather hasn't changed much in the last 30 years, except maybe to get a bit warmer! 

What will we do?
Family Wild Walks is open to families from all backgrounds, but recruitment is focused on families who need additional support to get involved – for example, lone parent families, families on low incomes and families newly-arrived in the UK.

Every month we go on a short walk through a couple of green space, with time for a play, a flask of tea and a natter about where we’ve played out, where we like to go, how we get our friends out playing and what's great about getting outdoors.

Families can borrow waterproofs as needed, purchase affordable waterproofs and they can also borrow camping gear for free to go on their own big adventures.

The project is designed to maximise a resource which is freely available to all, and which is proven to improve health outcomes, reduce social isolation, and make people happier: outdoor green spaces.

Map of London's Green Spaces courtesy of  http://www.nationalparkcity.london/ 

Can you help?

The outdoors makes us happier and healthier and the more we go outside, the more we want to go outside! 

Wild Walks as a 'model' has been tested multiple times now in Hackney, and builds on a successful project in New Zealand.

Can you help us take more families, especially Hackney families, outdoors more often?

Every little bit helps, and all donors over £30 will get one of our beautiful Outdoor Journals as a big thank you.

PS Next summer, subject to funding, all families will be invited to join Outdoor Family Camping in August 2019 at Green Farm Kent, learning the skills to take their families on cheap outdoors holidays and spending time reflecting on how important outdoors time is for them and their children. For more on that please see our website or Facebook page.

*All our research is collated in the Muddy Hands Report available via our journal: https://medium.com/@outdoorpeeps/from-muddy-hands-and-dirty-faces-to-higher-grades-and-happy-places-4e0534176eac 
** Hackney research from https://data.london.gov.uk/  and a survey conducted by us in 2016
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Cath Prisk 
Westgate Street, London

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