Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
10:54 AM 2nd March 2021

YDMT’s Outreach Project Continues To Make A Difference

The pandemic may have limited face to face contact throughout the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding areas but that hasn’t stopped Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s People and the DALES (Diversity, Access, Learning, Environment, Sustainability) project making a difference to people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Mo Rahman from BIASAN holding a garlic planting activity pack
Mo Rahman from BIASAN holding a garlic planting activity pack
More than 10,000 people have already taken part in the scheme, which aims to bring groups such as refugees and asylum seekers living in the nearby towns of Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Keighley and Blackburn with Darwen, into the Dales for health and wellbeing benefits.

During the first lockdown, the team visited Parkwood Hotel in Leeds where asylum seekers are housed waiting placement elsewhere.

Through the Refugee Council, PaD organised a visit to Golden Acre Park in Leeds along with the local park ranger, meaning those isolated could enjoy a green space in comfortable and safe surroundings.

As meetings became more difficult, the team were able to keep in touch with groups and attend their support sessions, join an online choir specifically for asylum seekers, help teach Maths online, befriend two families, and collect and distribute winter clothing.

Judy Rogers, Project Officer at YDMT said:
“As a team we’re acutely aware of how isolated people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds are during lockdowns.

“We would normally bring these groups to the Dales for respite and wellbeing but had to find other innovative ways of keeping in touch and making sure they were well.

“After those early visits, we decided to produce activity packs for individuals at home in the run up to Christmas and bring the Dales to our groups with a series of talks via Zoom.

“We also made funding available – thanks to our funding partner National Lottery Heritage Fund – to enable groups to carry on doing outdoor activities close to home. Small grants enabled groups to purchase items which they would not otherwise have been able to buy, and all were extremely grateful.”

PaD distributed almost a thousand activity packs to the groups they work with, which were delivered to individuals often alongside food parcels.

The aim was for the activities to be as sustainable as possible, and each pack contained things like garlic and daffodil bulbs as well as instructions on how to make beeswax wraps, bird feeders from lollipop sticks and a felted heart. They were accompanied by online instruction videos and more are planned for the spring.

PaD Online’s Zoom sessions included talks from Mark Evans OBE on walking the Empty Quarter (part of the Arabian Desert); Dr Riad Alsous, a Syrian refugee talking about his life, his journey to the UK, and the bee project he has established in his new home in Yorkshire; and Stuart Gledhill and Lee Ann Simmonds on Wild Swimming the Dales.

Judy added:
“As we couldn’t host our training weekend this year, which features inspirational speakers and talks, we decided to make these available online. They were really popular, and we will be doing a lot more in the future.”

Support for People and the Dales comes from a variety of partners including the players of People’s Postcode Lottery and The National Lottery Heritage Fund amongst others.