Dan Webber Fund Grants Awarded

Boots on the Ground

The Dan Webber Fund has awarded its first grant of £3,000 which will be used to support the Alabare 'Boots on the Ground' project.

The project works with young people aged 16 and 25 to help improve their mental health and wellbeing by connecting them with the natural environment through outdoor activities which increase their confidence, resilience and self-esteem while reducing feelings of stress and loneliness.

Many of the young people this funding will help have experienced difficulties or trauma in their lives that has left them isolated and vulnerable including those that have been homeless, care leavers and unaccompanied Asylum Seeker children. Through group activities and community volunteering these young people will start to connect with others and their community. The Boots on the Ground team act as mentors and role models and will spend time with each of the young people to build rapport and trust, gaining an insight into their hopes and aspirations.

Most of these young people will never have experienced a holiday or spent recreational time in nature. Experience has shown that participants have been surprised and delighted by taking part in activities that most young people take for granted and are quick to learn about nature and enjoy the interaction and team building in new outdoor settings.

Early activities may include gardening and pyrography, learning to make campfires and cooking over them, bush skills as well as those with external providers such as setting camera traps to capture wildlife movement, or learning to pilot a catamaran. There are visits to nature spots to identify fungi, bird spotting or a beach clean/litter pick. These activities help build a sense of belonging and self-worth and create opportunities to share positive experiences, provides emotional support and allows young people to support each other.

Increased physical activity not only helps with health and fitness but also helps to raise self-esteem as the young people learn how to set goals or challenges and achieve them. While the opportunity to learn new skills helps build self-confidence and connection with others.

The words of some of the young people who have been helped through this project say it all - 'I'm so grateful for this experience. I've been happier here for these three days than I have been for months' and 'I thought I was going to hate this but it was the best thing I have ever done'.

Thank you for supporting the Dan Webber Fund and for giving these young people an opportunity to experience nature in all its glory and set them on a path to a better future.