A group of homeless people are swapping Glasgow and Alloa for the Cairngorms during the weekend of 1-4 June.
The Big Issue Foundation and the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) have teamed up to give eight homeless people the opportunity to experience a weekend of camping and activities in the Glenmore area of the Park.
It is hoped that this pilot venture will help explore and establish ways of helping traditionally excluded groups of people access the benefits and resources of the National Park in the future.
For financial, cultural and other reasons, some groups and individuals tend to miss out on various recreational and educational opportunities in the countryside. A lack of knowledge about the resources and the facilities available in an area like the Cairngorms National Park, and how to access these, can be major barriers to socially excluded groups.
As part of this weekend’s visit, members of the Big Issue group will achieve the John Muir ‘Discovery’ Award and will be taking part in some practical conservation work as well as guided walks and watersports.
The trip is being supported financially by CNPA and the Cairngorms LEADER+ programme. Funding has also helped the Big Issue Foundation to buy a pool of equipment, such as tents and stoves, that will be available to use free of charge by other homeless people.
Jim Brown, Social Development Director at Big Issue Foundation Scotland said: “We really welcome this initiative by the Cairngorms National Park Authority and its recognition of the importance that access to such facilities should be open to all sections of the community.
“It is our experience that the outdoors can be an important tool in helping people to deal with a range of social problems. Trips such as this take people to places they have never been, giving them opportunities they have simply not had in the past. That pays massive dividends.”
CNPA Convener Andrew Thin said: “We really want the Cairngorms National Park to be a place for everyone to enjoy regardless of who they are and where they are from. To achieve this we have to work with partners to remove the barriers that are preventing some groups of people accessing the Park and enjoying its educational and recreational benefits.
“By helping buy equipment that groups and individuals can share and by supporting weekend events like this, which give people so much self-confidence, we hope to be able to declare this place as a ‘Park for All’.”
Patricia Hamilton, Cairngorms LEADER+ Programme Manager added: “The European fund LEADER+ is there to support everyone in the community, particularly in relation to the enjoyment of the natural resources of the area. We are delighted to support such an innovative project and hope that many other people in a similar situation will be attracted to the area and that the participants will be able to use the experience to inspire their lives and will benefit from it.”