Connecting people to the countryside
We are delighted to be working with the Magpie Project and Epping Forest Heritage Trust in 2021 to organise special, seasonal trips – or ‘Rural Rides’ – to local countryside. The Magpie Project is a charity supporting mums and under-fives in temporary accommodation in the London Borough of Newham.
‘Rural Rides’ is part of a national initiative, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to expand the audiences CPRE engages with and to offer groups who are not normally in a position to visit the countryside an opportunity to do so and enjoy associated activities. While our original plans have been affected by the pandemic, we are on track to complete three seasonal trips with this year. We are enormously grateful for the support of National Lottery players.
The feedback from Magpie mums and toddlers has been hugely positive and enthusiastic. These days out have included activities for the children, such as making wacky clay faces from natural materials, and are, for many of the families, the first opportunity they’ve had to visit the countryside in the UK. Many of the mums tell us of their sense of relief at just being outside and in the fresh air.
We look forward to hosting more ‘Rural Rides’ in the future and are keen to work with other groups who may benefit from such opportunities – so please get in touch with us at – firstname.lastname@example.org – if you would like to discuss a potential collaboration.
Spending time in open green spaces has significant benefits for our mental, physical and social wellbeing. Healthy lifestyles that involve regular visits to green spaces are widely championed. However, the reality is that accessing the countryside can be a huge challenge, particularly for disadvantaged communities. COVID-19 has highlighted these stark inequalities, with many unable to enjoy and feel connection to our beautiful natural heritage. London’s countryside should be available for everyone to enjoy!