Helping everybody access our natural heritage

A participant in the project
A young participant in the project
Julia Duncan from The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) Scotland relates how the organisation's work helps everyone enjoy the nature around them.

At TCV Scotland we believe everyone has the right to enjoy Scotland’s countryside and learn about the nature on their doorstep regardless of age, background or ability.

Over one million people in Scotland have a disability, which for many means minimal physical activity, little contact with nature, limited opportunities to learn new skills and fewer chances to meet new people. All this can lead to social isolation and mental health problems.

[quote]“We believe everyone has the right to enjoy Scotland’s countryside and learn about the nature on their doorstep regardless of age, background or ability.”[/quote]

Helping disabled people access nature

At TCV Scotland, we are trying to change that by reaching out to people with disabilities. We believe that encouraging connection with nature by bringing people together to have fun in the outdoors can be one step towards improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Activities we organise range from nature play sessions with children, beach safaris and bat walks, to Citizen Science and food growing projects with adults.

One Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) service user said:“One of the main reasons for working with TCV is that they can tailor the activities to the group’s needs and they have the sensitivity and experience in which to do so.  The TCV team are able to listen to the needs of the group and can adapt them accordingly which means that they can provide a bespoke experience for each individual within the group.  

"This project, personally, has boosted my own self confidence and I feel safe to come out of my comfort zone and have new experiences."

Deaf Action Stories and Stones

This is why we’re so excited about Deaf Action Stories and Stones (DASS), one of two HLF-supported TCV projects for this year alongside Nature Connections, which is exploring the history of Glasgow Disabled Scouts.  

It builds on an existing partnership with Deaf Action, which is transforming the lives of families with deaf children and parents living in the Edinburgh area through facilitated nature play sessions, bringing people together to learn about their natural heritage in a fun and engaging way.

[quote=Parent of project participant]“The boys loved everything: campfire building, rock pools, first aid, bracelet making, toasting marshmallows.”[/quote]

One parent said about the scheme: “The boys loved everything: campfire building, rock pools, first aid, bracelet making, toasting marshmallows, making bread outdoors, learning the names of insects and trees and collecting firewood… The list is endless!””

DASS will focus on a new area for TCV and Deaf Action, bringing together deaf children aged between 10-18 living in the Borders and giving them experience of stimulating heritage-based outings in and around the area. 

Working in partnership

Working in partnership with National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Borders Forest Trust, our aim is to connect the young people with the heritage of each place through telling stories, appealing activities, running guided walks/talks and providing hands-on practical conservation tasks.

Including British Sign Language (BSL) is key to increasing the accessibility of heritage for young people with hearing loss. Working with property-based staff and a BSL interpreter, DASS will make the heritage of abbeys, castles, gardens and wild landscapes come alive for young people who are currently unable to access the rich and varied stories relating to each site.

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