Save Outdoor Ed

Save Outdoor Ed

A campaign to save the UK’s Outdoor Education Centres from closure

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The outdoor learning sector delivers formative educational experiences to at least 5m students across the UK every year. The sector provides over 15,000 jobs and £700m to the UK economy.

However the Impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt across all areas of Outdoor learning with reports showing an estimated lost revenue of £275 million until mid March 2021 and each day over 70,000 under 18’s and 20,000 over 18’s missing out on valuable learning experiences.

Outdoor Learning Covid-19 Impact Survey

The report conducted by UK Outdoors paints a bleak picture of the devastating impact that Covid-19 is having on the Outdoor Education sector, regardless of the efforts made by many to diversify.

Over 80% of respondents rely on residential school visits for at least half of their income

Two thirds of 127 respondents expect their income to fall by over 80% year on year

30% of respondents have disposed of assets to generate income and half of all respondents are expecting their April 2021 reserves to be down 80% on February 2020 levels

In order for the sector to survive the pandemic we need the Government to step in and provide a support package for outdoor education centres, as they have in Scotland and Ireland.

We need to shout about the #SaveOutdoorEd campaign loud enough so that the Government hear us. We can do this through telling them about the amazing impact that outdoor education has on our countries young people, and the vital role outdoor centres will play in the recovery and learning of young people after the pandemic. **Information at the bottom of this post on how you can support the campaign**

 

The Impact of Our Outdoor Activity Centre

Bendrigg Trust is a specialist outdoor activity centre which provides residential opportunities for people of all abilities including profoundly disabled and disadvantaged people. We enable people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access adventure activities, the opportunity to do so and it is often life changing.

Our Principal Nick Liley has led the centre through an incredibly difficult time to maintain our stability as a charity, but this stability has been dependant on the Governments furlough leave scheme and significant internal fundraising efforts.

I am unwavering in my belief that Bendrigg Trust will be key to the recovery of people with disabilities following the pandemic. People with disabilities will be more isolated, have more anxiety, be less independent, be less active, have more severe health conditions and will have fewer life chances than ever before.

Bendrigg Trust will be part of the solution, renewing peoples self-confidence, independence and self-esteem. We will reconnect people with nature and with other people within the disabled community. We will have a very clear task ahead of us once things reopen and it is imperative that we receive the financial support from Government to do it.

– Nick Liley, Bendrigg Principal

 

 

Throughout the pandemic we have kept in touch with our visitors to find out their current needs and how Bendrigg can play a part in helping them through this difficult time. The truth is that most of our visitors are in a desperate situation. Many families with members who have additional needs are struggling through the pandemic a statement which is backed up by this report from the office for national statistics.

Of all the worries they had, more than 1 in 4 (27%) disabled people were most concerned about the impact on their well-being

Our research and communications showed that families are desperate for a safe outdoor space, to get away from the same 4 walls safely, reconnect with people and enable their family member with additional needs to build their independence again.

In order to support our visitors through the pandemic, we gained our Covid Good To Go badge and opened up our grounds for families to enjoy a safe accessible outdoor space with access to an accessible toilet. The demand for this was huge and peoples feedback showed how much of an impact this service had after shielding indoors for months on end. Once restrictions lifted further we applied for and secured funding to be able to offer accessible day activities for families, college groups and adults with a disability. We also ran our first ever “Winter Wonderland” trail with great success again, the feedback showed just what a huge difference having access to a safe outdoor space meant to them.

Despite the challenges faced, Bendrigg rose to the challenge and were able to welcome a total of 484 participants along with 413 carers/parents/family members since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Client Testimonial – The Whittingham’s

It has been a stressful & emotional time for anyone, but I can only share the impact on my son who has Autism & ADHD. Having to socially isolate has had a huge knock on effect on my son’s overall happiness, motivation and self esteem.

My son has major difficulties with social integration & social communication.  The importance of being included in groups in order to improve these skills, to feel included, to try new opportunities, to exercise, are so beneficial for his Autism & ADHD. Unfortunately any groups he attended, suddenly shut in March 2020 with very short notice including his school. Some groups have not been able to reopen, or have closed for good and 1-1 support with his carer stopped. My sons wellbeing has deteriorated because of the nature of the support which is aimed at increasing impendence and confidence through social, recreational & leisure activities within the local community.

The lockdown was sudden, there was no time to prepare for the disruption and change in routine. We were suddenly isolated.  Being autistic he finds social integration & communication very difficult – all the services & activities to help him with these skills stopped. He no longer was included, no longer able to develop and improve these key skills, and no longer able to feel empowered.

Every time the rules change it causes great confusion and conflict which results in fear, anxiety & frustration. We live in the countryside and normally see very few people, but when the restrictions lifted, suddenly there was an influx of people passing our home. No way were we able to go for a walk, he feared we would have to pass people in the narrow lanes and felt very vulnerable and anxious.

Being active in the outdoors has always aided in my son being able to re-focus and enjoy all of the benefits to wellbeing through being in the outdoors in the sunlight and fresh air.

Bendrigg rose to the challenge facing Covid 19 to create worthwhile outdoor experiences through creative problem solving and provided amazing opportunities that are very satisfying in meeting my sons needs.

Going to Bendrigg gave my son the opportunity to get outdoors again, somewhere he felt safe. It gave him a great sense of freedom not being controlled by the environment, virus & people around him. I believe it was a massive achievement in the face of adversity.

The activities seemed to have an immediate positive effect! Not only was it great for him to be active which helps us to have a healthier mind & body. His confidence was brimming, he was being more independent and was able to make choices with little prompting. He wasn’t clingy or hesitant, initiated conversation with the instructors  (he says the staff at Bendrigg are always friendly & supportive) & within our support  bubble we shared excitement and had lots to talk about regarding the activities, offering peer support  and encouragement and even a little bit of healthy competition.  The whole day had such a great sense of fun, I hadn’t seen my son laugh, smile,  have fun & be at total ease for months.

Through preparation, we felt safe and reassured in being able to give my son these new experiences and challenges. We were able to take part in a great range of activities in a safe & secure way – meeting the Covid 19 government requirements.

The activities at Bendrigg have had a lasting positive impact on my son, that will last a life time.  I’m sure many will remember their time at Bendrigg during the Pandemic.

What Can You Do To Support The Campaign?

There are many ways in which you can support the campaign to save outdoor education centres :

While Government restrictions make the normal operation of Residential Centres impossible, we implore them to provide financial assistance to help this viable & worthwhile industry survive this period of forced closure.

  • Write to your local MP

Once you’ve signed the petition above, you can find your local MP’s details here. Write to them to voice your support for the Save Outdoor Ed campaign sharing your personal experience of outdoor education and the impact it has had on you. Call upon them to provide financial support for the sector to ensure centres survive the pandemic.

  • Share this blog post on social media, via email or whatsapp to your friends and family asking them to take action. On social media use the hashtag #SaveOutdoorEd and tag @BendriggTrust so we can share/retweet your posts.

You could post about how outdoor education centres have impacted your life or someone you know add photos or a video telling people what you’ve done to help and why you think this campaign is so important.

  • Set up a fundraiser or make a donation to your local outdoor education centre

If the Government do not offer a package of support, we will be reliant on fundraising through trusts, foundations and the general public.

You could fundraise in aid of Bendrigg Trust to help ensure our survival so that we can be here after the pandemic to enable more disabled people to have life changing adventures.

If you’d like to make a donation to Bendrigg you can do so online here alternatively you can email Martha our fundraising and marketing officer or call our office Monday – Friday 9-5 and one of our team will be happy to help.

 

Thank you for your support together we can get through this

 

 

An Update From The Bendrigg Team

Bendrigg Trust Update 04/01/2021

Bendrigg is currently closed to the public as of 04/01/2021 & is not accepting volunteers. Our office remains open with limited office staff working on essential tasks such as planning for the future, communications and fundraising. If you would like to talk to us about a future trip or if you have a query please call us during normal office hours on 01539723766 and we will do our best to help.

We were so proud of our ability to adapt during 2020 and although we weren’t able to offer our normal residential services as of March 2020, we still made a huge impact on the lives of disabled people and their families through our grounds access days, adventures activities for families and adults and our Winter Wonderland event.

Feedback from the Whittingham Family

“Bendrigg rose to the challenge facing Covid 19. They created worthwhile outdoor experiences through creative problem solving and were able to provide opportunities that were satisfying in meeting our needs whilst also being great fun!

My son has ADHD and Autism, being locked down has negatively impacted his overall happiness, motivation and self-esteem. Being autistic he finds social integration & communication very difficult, all of the services & activities to help him with these skills stopped because of the pandemic.  He was isolated and no longer able to develop & improve these key skills.

The activities at Bendrigg seemed to have an immediate positive effect! My son’s confidence was brimming, he was being more independent through being able to make choices.  The day gave him and us a huge sense of achievement.”

The need for accessible outdoor adventures for disabled people is growing and even more essential than before. Bendrigg are working hard to do all we can to be there for families like the Whittingham’s once it is safe for us to re-open.

How Can You Support Bendrigg Trusts Work in 2021?

We’ve been asked how people can support Bendrigg throughout 2021 and we’ve put together some ways that you can get involved in supporting us below.

💚 Fundraise for Bendrigg

Even though our doors are closed right now, we still have vital work going on behind the scenes with fundraising, planning and building/grounds maintenance, this is so that when we’re allowed, we are ready to provide safe outdoor space and adventure activities for disabled people and their families. It is the unavoidable and necessary costs like heating, hot water, staff time and maintenance that are essential and enable things like our free grounds access days and the Winter Wonderland to take place as they take considerable planning and staff time – every little really does help and we are always extremely grateful for your support.

You could take on a fitness challenge, host a special zoom party or organise a front room family quiz in aid of Bendrigg… whatever takes your fancy! For fundraising help and advice please call or email Martha – martha@bendrigg.org.uk

💚 Help to raise awareness

You can help to raise awareness by sharing your experience with friends, family or anyone you know who may benefit from our services in future. Although we aren’t open now, as soon as we can, we will be offering services for disabled people and their families and the more people who know about us, the better! So follow our social media pages by clicking the links below, share a post, tag a friend and share your experience with others to help spread the word.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn

💚 Leave a review

When we are able to open again we expect that people may be worried about Covid safety measures and hearing from people who have already been to Bendrigg and experienced our services can make all the difference. You can leave reviews here on our Facebook page, Google and on Euan’s Guide.

 

💚 Take care of yourselves

In the meantime, we will be trying to keep in touch with you all as much as possible through social media and our E-newsletter spreading the Bendrigg Buzz with helpful information and positive vibes to you at home. We know this is such a difficult time for many of our visitors and we want to let you all know that you are all in our hearts. We can’t wait to welcome you back soon for some more adventures.

With love, from the Bendrigg Family x

 

 

What Bendrigg Means To Us…

What Bendrigg Means To Us…

A guest blog from Dawn Flint, mum to the lovely Lewis, 14.

 

What does Bendrigg mean to Lewis and I? Everything!

Throughout Lewis’ life ‘He’s happy watching the other children’ is a phrase I’ve heard time and time again. Those words are guaranteed to make my blood boil! Lewis is not happy watching others, he wants to be involved in everything.

We often describe Lewis as a white knuckle child.

He loves adventure, activity and speed. Bendrigg is one of very few places where he can experience all of those and participate in absolutely everything on offer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lewis is 14 and has an un-diagnosed genetic condition.

He has no independent mobility or speech and is reliant on us for all his care needs. Lewis uses an eye gaze communication aid to communicate and is constantly talking about Bendrigg, telling us that he loves the climbing wall, tube slide and indoor swing.

Lewis has been to Bendrigg 9 or 10 times over the last 5 years either with myself on family weekends or with school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can honestly say that our weekends at Bendrigg are the highlights of our year!

Watching Lewis climb walls and abseil back down, laugh with delight as he goes down a tube slide, relax in the amazing sensory room, grin as he spins round the room on a swing suspended from the ceiling to his favorite music and all alongside friends. It’s a truly heart-warming and magical place.

The staff at Bendrigg are amazing, taking as much time as is needed to make sure every child can participate. It’s all done with smiles on their faces and encouraging words. It truly is our favorite place to be, offering adventure, fun and friendship for all.


Check out some more heart warming testimonials and Bendrigg stories from families, groups, individuals and volunteers here.

What does Bendrigg mean to you? Get in touch with Martha our Marketing and Fundraising Officer to share your story.

 

 

“None of us know our limits until we are allowed to test them”

After commenting on a recent twitter post about his trip to Bendrigg in 1992 & 1993, we asked Mark to share his story!

 

“In the early 90’s I was a support worker, employed by an inner London borough, working in the community supporting a small group of brain injured people. The work was tough but fun, my colleagues and clients became lifelong friends. My boss Paul was a very dry-humoured Cumbrian, exiled to London, and one day he came up with the idea of a holiday at Bendrigg.”

I was utterly stunned by the setting

“Before long we were packing up the persistently unreliable minibus and making the journey up the motorway. I had never been to the Lake District before and I was utterly stunned by the setting, it was a far cry from the inner London estate we had come from. For one of our guys it was one of the first times he had ever been out of central London, it was a genuine culture shock. I remember his face as we surveyed the open spaces and huge sky.”

We did things that I did not think could be done

“Our care tasks remained the same whether we were in London or the Lakes. People needed support to wash, dress and eat etc but now we were adding activities such as canoeing, abseiling and caving to our days. We did things that I did not think could be done, people with very limited movement and even more limited opportunity, took on physical tasks that looked impossible. It was the Bendrigg staff that made the impossible possible, it was their knowledge, encouragement and belief that pushed us all, me and my colleagues included, to go beyond what we thought we could do. True bravery is wheeling yourself backwards off of an abseiling wall when you have never attempted anything like that before and you never thought you could do it; I saw that happen more than once.”

It was a week of working hard and playing hard

“I recall that the evenings were as much fun as the days. I was taught to fire-breathe, a trick I still wheel out from time to time, much to the amazement of my own children (and the horror of health and safety officers the world over); but my inability to learn how to juggle has persisted. The week flew by and, following a second visit by the nice man from the AA, we packed the van and hit the M6 South. We were all exhausted, but we had earn’t this tiredness, it was a week of working hard and playing hard. It was so hard that we booked for the following year and did it all again (as did the nice man from the AA).”

None of us know our limits until we are allowed to test them

“It is more than quarter of a century since I last visited Bendrigg Lodge, I see from photographs that the centre has expanded but has remained true to its aims of inclusion and pushing boundaries and expectations. None of us know our limits until we are allowed to test them, many of us are hesitant, needing the support of trusted people to enable us to go one step further. Bendrigg did that for my clients, my colleagues and me. In the intervening years I am sorry to say that three of my four clients and two of my five colleagues have now passed away, some of my happiest memories of them all are of being on the wind-swept hillsides or lakes near Bendrigg. I still work with people affected by brain injury.”

They taught me to see ability

“My visits to Bendrigg were amongst the hardest working weeks I have ever had but they remain the most memorable too. They taught me to see ability, they showed me what it means to work in a team and they formed a lifelong love of the outdoors. I am a city-boy but I relax by spending time in the hills. I am certain that Bendrigg has had an impact on thousands of people in a similar way and I look forward to seeing it continue to thrive and give life-changing opportunities to many.”

 

Do you have a Bendrigg Story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!