‘Venture Outdoors Creating Healthy Communities’ project, was our own initiative which started in 2009 and reached completion in 2014.
The aim of the project was to address the barriers limiting the use of the outdoors by three underrepresented communities namely, those with a disability, those from minority ethnic communities and those living in areas of high social need.
Our role was to deliver on the following milestones:
- 400 people from the three underrepresented communities to have improved health and well-being through sustained participation in outdoor recreation activities
- 25,000 people from the three underrepresented communities to be better informed about the outdoor recreation opportunities currently available across Northern Ireland.
- Community Leader Training
- 40 volunteers to be trained as walk and cycle leaders
- Building Bridges
- 50 community groups to have improved relationships at a local level with the wider recreational community.
- Outdoor Recreation Provider Training
- 100 providers of outdoor recreation to be more confident and skilled in working with members of the disabled, ethnic minority and TSN communities.
The project improved the health and well-being of 606 members of the three underrepresented communities. This was achieved this through the delivery of ‘taster sessions’ provided by activity providers to over 40 groups. Groups from all over Northern Ireland took part in 6 weeks of activities, based in their local area and which were tailored to their specific needs and abilities. Activities included walking, cycling, archery, canoeing and climbing.
Venture Outdoors was successful in ensuring approximately 340,000 individuals were better informed about outdoor recreation in Northern Ireland.
- Successful implementation of a targeted PR strategy achieved an equivalent advertising value of £511,773
- Online PR was also generated through targeted websites, forums and e-newsletters.
- Posters were displayed in community centres and flyers inserted in community newsletters
- Exhibitions were attended across Northern Ireland with over 1000 brochures and leaflets distributed.
- Most significantly, the Local Outdoors portal was launched in July 2012. The portal provided a ’one stop shop’ of outdoor recreation providers across Northern Ireland.
Initially, 69% of community groups believed that the lack of accessible information was a problem for their organisations, however, after a successful marketing campaign, this figure decreased to 25%.
Community Leader Training
A total of 83 community leaders were trained in walking, cycling, archery and orienteering.
Venture Outdoors was able to build vital connections between 191 community groups and providers of outdoor recreation
Outdoor Recreation Provider Training
23 training courses were organised and delivered to 399 providers of outdoor recreation throughout Northern Ireland. These courses educated activity providers on how to adapt their present activity offerings to suit the needs of the disadvantaged community groups. The courses were wide-ranging and covered the following topics:
- Disability inclusion
- Dealing with difficult behaviour
- Creating an accessible outdoor experience
- Tree and interactive walks
The Venture Outdoors project proved highly successful over its extended 5 year period. Having significantly exceeded all its targets, it was vital that Venture Outdoors left a legacy to allow the valuable work started with communities in Northern Ireland to continue.
An evaluation of the project showed that community groups believed that walking was the most accessible and enjoyable activity in which to participate and in direct response to this, ‘Walking In Your Community’ was developed.
“Excellent programme and I can’t wait to do more. I’ve been inspired to explore more activities and locations in Northern Ireland” Derry Friendship Club
“Venture Outdoors was a great experience, I really enjoyed getting out and doing things as it has given me more confidence” Glenshane Community Development Association