This is an archived press release
Monday 8 December 2008
08 December 2008
National Park promotes access for all
The Peak District National Park Authority wants to reach out to huge sectors of our society who are deterred from visiting the countryside.
Surveys show that residents of deprived areas, people with disabilities or mental health problems, and minority ethnic groups are far less likely to visit the national park than other sections of the population. It means they miss out on potential benefits for health, wellbeing, enjoyment and understanding.
The Authority has unanimously approved (Dec 5) an action plan to encourage these groups, focusing firstly on nearby communities in Derbyshire, Sheffield, Barnsley, Kirklees, Oldham and Tameside.
To be launched in the Spring, it aims to tackle the barriers that currently put people off, including:
• lack of awareness of what the national park has to offer - for instance, free ranger-guided walks and events throughout the year
• unfamiliarity with using the countryside for leisure - fear of the unknown, not knowing where to go, what to do and what facilities there are.
By targeting information on the right social networks and organising initial visits, the aim is to build people’s confidence and knowledge so they can come back on their own.
City-based community champions already work with the Authority to promote the national park’s opportunities among minority ethnic groups. Their role will be widened to include deprived communities and special needs groups, with support from bodies such as the Campaign for National Parks, Natural England and the YHA.
The community champions will help develop new specially-tailored leaflets, posters and web-pages, and distribute publicity material in the most effective places. They will also help organise visits, liaising with rangers on activities such as walking and cycling.
To help with funding, the Authority will assist groups with grant-applications for activities and conservation work. And it wants to work with other local authorities to include national park activities in their community health projects.
Authority chair Narendra Bajaria said: “National parks are the nation’s green spaces and no-one should feel excluded from what they have to offer. It is everybody’s birthright to enjoy these beautiful landscapes, their wildlife and heritage.
“People who are unfamiliar with the countryside need to know that they can go walking with a ranger every weekend for free. They can hire bikes when they get here and ride on traffic-free trails, they can come by public transport, they can learn so much, enjoy beautiful scenery and get fit at the same time.
“Likewise, people with disabilities need to know that there’s plenty they can do. Many miles of trails are suitable for wheelchairs or buggies, our cycle-hire centres have adapted machines and rangers do walks for people with all kinds of disabilities.”
“Ranger Guided Walks & Events” and “You’re Welcome” booklets are available from national park visitor centres, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01629 816558. Or visit the website, www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting