A lot of us have a perception that the countryside is free and it's easy to access. You just put your boots on, jump in the car, and go somewhere lovely for a picnic, a bike ride or a dog walk. The truth is, many of us take this for granted. The things that might be easy for some of us are a lot more difficult for others. Access could mean getting the right kit or travelling to your destination. It’s easy enough if you've got a car, but sometimes, it’s incredibly difficult if you rely on public transport. If you're dealing with a mental or physical health condition, then you’ll also need to think about accessibility. Also, people with caring responsibilities are massively limited. Sometimes in terms of where they can go, what they can do, or how easy it is to enjoy and explore different locations.
Many of us know how powerful the outdoors is for improving our physical health and mental well-being. It gives us some kind of emotional resilience and a break from the stresses of everyday life. It helps us recharge, gives us a breath of fresh air, and allows us to connect to nature before getting back to the hustle and bustle of life.
But another thing that prevents many from accessing the outdoors is financial stability. People who’re living on a low wage and struggling to make ends meet are the people who would most benefit from time spent outdoors. Yet, they're the ones who’re finding it the hardest to access.
To resolve this problem, we require systemic change. But we need help from larger organisations. They must focus on reaching out to the people who need help and create ways to remove the barriers that stand in the way of them and the outdoors.
It’s not just a moral imperative to fight for change. It's also critically important for our health as a nation, the well-being of our communities, and for supporting our NHS.