The BMC ran a consultation day with members of black and minority ethnic (BME) communities to identify perceived barriers to participation in rock climbing and hill walking on 18th September 2010.
The day was run in conjunction with Oldham's U Project that aims to enhance the delivery of outdoor physical activities in Oldham and Oldham Community Health Services.
Taking part in the day was a women only group from Rochdale and a mixed gender group from Oldham.
As most people in the group had not been climbing or hill walking before, the day started with one group going on a short walk near Dovestones Reservoir, Greenfield, Oldham and the other group doing some introductory rock climbing activites at Hobson Moor Quarry near Mottram.
The groups then changed over so that everyone had the opportunity to do some rock climbing and some hill walking.
At the end of the day there was a series of feedback sessions aimed at finding out what participants thought of the activities, whether they would like to do them again, why they hadn't done them before, and most importantly what they thought might prevent people from their communities engaging in these sorts of activities.
The feedback sessions were extremely interesting and all gave positive feedback about the day's activities, both formally, as part of the feedback process, and also verbally during the walking sessions.
Quite a few of the groups members clearly had a keen interest in the outdoors and did in fact enjoy the countryside in their own local areas. Some wanted the opportunity to be able to get out into more remote areas and experience what these locations had to offer. Some wanted to do more challenging activites such as day long walks, and walks that attain summits, as well do longer climbs - both outdoors and inside as climbing walls.
A point that was raised by several members of both groups was that they were not aware that some of these locations existed or how to get involved in outdoor activities. Information seems to be issue that could be better provided.
One comment made was "we are quite adventurous, although people think we aren't. We just don’t have the same opportunities."
All members of both groups seemed to enjoy learning about points of local interest, history and the environment during the sessions. They all showed quite a keen interest when taken to the RSPB stand to chat with the wardens and learn about local birds etc.
The consultation ititiative came about as a result of the participation figures for people from BME communities revealed in the BMC's Equity Survey. This showed that that less than 2% of those that responded came from BME communities.
"We had a very enjoyable day, discovering such a beautiful local location which was unknown to us prior to the walk. Although the hill walking was thoroughly enjoyed by all, we look forward to a more challenging and longer walk in the future and hope to explore the national parks.
It was fantastic to have had the oppurtunity to be in the hands of some great climbers whilst climbing. All the staff and volunteers made a very supportive team, full of encouragement.
For me personally, the hill walking has triggered off a new interest and I hope to include more walking and physical activity into my daily lifestyle as a direct result of this day, hence helping me to achieve a more healthier lifestyle.
I do think that more awareness needs to be raised about the walks and activities that are available to women. Especially as there are many more that are interested, but are not able to access them because of lack of awareness."
To watch two very short BMC films encouraging people from BME communities to try climbing please click here
To view the BMC's easy to read guide for those people new to climbing, hill walking and mountaineering, especially young people and their parents please click here. If you would like to know more about getting started please click here.
The BMC would like to thank all those involved in the day for making it such a success and such a great day out. This includes all those from the BME communities that participated in the day, staff and volunteers from the U Project, Oldham Community Leisure and Oldham Community Health Service who contributed in kind to the day, Link4Life, BMC and the BMC Equity Steering Group and Dovestone sailing club for their hospitality and letting us use their club house.