Some of you may know, or may not (if not HOW?) that I have been selected as one of only 60 to be an Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion for the next 2 years. I am unbelievably chuffed and proud, but what exactly is it…
2015 was a seminal year for me, I had a breakdown in September whilst in Paris working. Well you know, if you are going to do it, do it somewhere with a bit of style I say! Unbeknown to me, at the same time Ordnance Survey were launching their new GetOutside initiative. It is almost like we were destined to be huh! In February 2016 I stumbled upon their launch of the GetOutside Champions (I imagine because I have a not so secret crush on Steve Backshall…..shhhh, don’t tell anyone…..) and I was immediately transfixed. Here was an initiative that was so closely linked to my own desire to engage with the outside. Magic!
If you back track through my blogs you will see that I have written before about my decision, whilst on an escape to the Lake District, to use the outdoors as my treatment room, my therapy. Whilst climbing up Skiddaw I realised that the place where I felt most ‘me’, most alive and at peace was outside. There To Outdoors and Beyond was born. So when I started to read more about GetOutside I was hooked. I have followed these people on their journeys, to a point that I almost feel as if I know them (Jason - ha ha!). The whole scheme at the time seemed like a no brainer really. Of course the outdoors is the best place to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Doesn’t everyone know that? Well apparently not.
Research findings show that a quarter of us won’t walk anywhere that takes over 15 minutes, three quarters of people don’t walk to work and almost 70% never walk to the shops while only a third would do the school run on foot. And, only a third of us admit to walking for pleasure. Apparently the three biggest barriers to spending time outdoors are the weather, not liking being around other people and not enough green spaces or trails.
Nick Giles, Managing Director of Ordnance Survey Leisure, says: “These results highlight that there are many people who could do more to get outside and get active. However it is important to remember that every week there are millions of people who are enjoying the great British outdoors – whether in the National Parks or their local parks. The benefits of exercising and getting regular fresh air are huge and we think that it is time more of us #GetOutside!”
So, what exactly is #GetOutside?
GetOutside is a campaign which aims to get people of all ages and abilities to step outside their front door and start adventuring, no matter how big or small, and no matter where they live. Since its launch in 2015 they have more and more people than ever engaging with GetOutside. There are approximately 1 million people a month accessing 250,000 pages of content and there are now over 20 partners engaged with the initiative. By visiting getoutside.uk you can access walks, routes, beginners guides, cycling information, family activities and lots more amazing content to inspire you to get outside.
And where do I fit in? That’s a good question and how was I chosen out of over 700 others? Well….. At the launch event in January Nigel Clifford, CEO, spoke passionately about how one of the key areas of focus for the GetOutside campaign this year is mental health. At this point my ears pricked up. As he spoke I realised that maybe this was why I was there, in this room full of the most singularly awe inspiring people – ever. My experience with my own mental health, my breakdown and the subsequent journey I went on to understand it more is, I feel, something that others can relate to. I made a decision on Skiddaw that misty, snowy day that being outside was key to my mental wellbeing. Hopefully through my words, pictures and brutal honesty (I make no apologies for that) I will be able to reach out to a whole raft of people who have not before engaged with the outdoors. Taking baby steps each day to go outdoors and breathe, despite the weather. Encourage people to realise that you each have your own mountain to climb. We are not all built to climb Everest but we can, if we want to and starting out small, every day means that we are one step closer to reaching our own goals. And you know what, if 15 minutes of QUALITY time outside, every day, is all you can manage right now that is great. I know how hard it is for some of you to just walk out the door each day, I’ve been there.
My plans for this year include just living, day to day with my family. Loving my (new – eek) job as an Outdoor Instructor at Malvern Outdoor Elements, gaining my Mountain Training Summer Mountain Leader Award and Climbing Wall Awards. Taking up running and completing the Great North Run for Mind Charity, having a bash at wild swimming (a real challenge, I am terrified of deep water), learning to climb outdoors, finally do some paddleboarding, do more surfing and discover new places to walk in this amazing country of ours.
Along the way I hope to meet up with as many of the GetOutside Champions along the way and chat to them about mental health and the outdoors, who knows I may even get to grips with a GoPro and film stuff! But the main thing I plan on doing is making sure that I GetOutside EVERY SINGLE DAY, even if it’s just for 15 minutes to give my mind a chance to reset. Come on, join me!
For more information on #GetOutside click here: GetOutside