Walking in the outdoor countryside environment without appropriate gear can be a daunting task!
By Maxwell A. Ayamba – Environmental Journalist/Projects Co-ordinator, Sheffield Environmental Movement (SEM)
The British countryside can sometimes been very unfriendly and daunting weather-wise, especially when one hasn’t got the proper outdoor gear to withstand the hazards that the weather can throw at you. Walking in the outdoors especially in the countryside such as the Peak District with its rugged terrain can be challenging without the proper gear. Although walking can be fun however, it can also be a chore if one hasn’t the right walking boots, water proof coats/jackets or warm clothing to buttress the cold weather. For seasoned walkers walking in the outdoor terrain in diverse landscapes is considered normal, fun and a hobby, ask the Ramblers and they will tell you – it is no wonder that the outdoor market is big business.
However, walking in the countryside such as the Peak District National is a different kettle of fish to people who hitherto are not used to countryside walking and therefore the terrain and also don’t know what the weather can throw at them. It can be daunting instead of fun, a chore instead of a hobby and sometimes hazardous and dangerous, and that is exactly what people in lower socio-economic groups including Black and Ethnic Minorities who are urbanised face when it comes to walking in the countryside without having the proper outdoor gear on.
Fortunately for people who can afford outdoor gear, walking in the outdoors is considered normal and taken for granted. However this is not the case with those who are not in the financial position to purchase outdoor gear to facilitate their walking, hence once they go out to walk and the weather is not friendly it can act as a deterrent, and this is where initiatives such as Gift Your Gear comes in.
Gift Your Gear is a UK initiative that really appreciates the problems faced by people from lower socio-economic groups who are not in the position financially to afford outdoor gear as they have other pressing socio-economic needs. And although the Government is trying to promote the concept of walking for the improvement of people’s health and wellbeing this aspect of in Government policy has not been given appropriate consideration.
The narrative is simple, walking is good for health and wellbeing however walking can be a chore and dangerous and lots of people are not in the position to afford outdoor gear to enable them to achieve their goals either walking for leisure and recreation or for the health benefits associated.
With the support from Gift Your Gear, the Sheffield Environmental Movement (SEM) has been using this gear to encourage walking among groups who when it comes to the issue of walking see the countryside outdoor environment alien to them.
The hazards associated with walking in the outdoors without the proper gear and training is often overlooked and taken for granted, and this is what SEM working with Gift Your Gear is trying to address in order to help to make a difference in people’s overall quality of life especially those from deprived communities.