In Wales, a charity organization is using the great outdoors of their local environment to connect people and to improve lives. Set at the foot of Snowdon, peaking at just over a 1 000 m, this group of people took the initiative to use their great environment to change the lives of many. A total of 120 000 people has been reached since their beginning days in 2005.
The Outdoor Partnership started in 2005 with no more than only 15 community-based clubs. Their focus was to give the local people who were often impoverished, the opportunity to get outdoors and to climb the mountain which overshadows their town. In this period they invested more than £700 000 in supplying the needed equipment to get outdoors as well as in offering training so that those who can’t afford it, can get the proper qualifications to apply for positions of guides for mountain excursions. Through the help of 4 500 volunteers and supporters, more than 500 unemployed people, have the requirements and career as an instructor now. Today the charity has grown to involve more than 100 clubs, and they have recently received a contribution of £3 million to expand their program to other impoverished communities staying in mountainous towns.
Ryan Gibson, a 36-year-old local, is one of those whose life took a complete turn for the better once his path crossed with the Outdoor Partnership. He was living on the street in Holyhead and could hardly afford to stay alive, regardless of paying for tuition to get qualified to teach others how to climb. Now he qualifies kayaking, walking and climbing. He is responsible for training both adults and children as young as five years old to take on the outdoors. This opportunity took him off the streets, and he is now able to provide for his wife and two children.
Snowdon is the second highest peak in the British Isles. From the mountain top, climbers have a clear view of the mountains forming the South Pennines as well as the Peak District. Nearly half a million visitors come to Snowdon annually, yet many of the locals have never been up the peak. Mostly it seems that they either believe that the outdoors are only for the adventure spirited among them, or for those in the middle-class who can afford the needed equipment. The Outdoor Partnership is changing this perspective. They are not only creating brilliant networks within communities but are connecting people and improving lives. Over the past decade or more, the number of positions filled by locals in instructor positions for mountain excursions has increased from 7% to 20%. The project surrounding Snowdon was such a brilliant success, and now they are expanding to East Ayrshire, Cumbria and Newry. Changing lives in the outdoors through extreme sports. For many Snowdon turned out to be so much more than a peak overshadowing their town, it became a beacon of hope, a change of life perspectives, hopes and dreams.