The mark of success for us is when we see activities continuing long after our programmes have finished and to know that the women we bought together are still meeting up for a self-organised weekly walk months later. Well, we couldn’t ask for a better legacy, could we?
For many Muslim women, walking in nature was something to fear, not enjoy. Our understanding of this, gained through our partnership with the charity, British Islamic Gardens, meant we could co-design a programme that was fully responsive to the need for women-only walks to serve BME communities.
Thanks to funding from Reading Borough Council, for six weeks, fifteen women regularly came to walk and participate in nature connection, art and mindfulness activities run by visiting experts. Being together in a facilitated group allowed women to play in a safe and trusted environment. Through our partnership with Tutu’s Ethiopian Table, a cafe in the Park, everyone could also enjoy a free hot drink on us.
Engaging asylum seekers through the power of nature
The success of our six-week walking programme hinged on our determination to build trust with asylum seekers in collaboration with Refugee Support Group (RRSG) and The University of Reading (UoR). We spent two months attending drop-in sessions to get to know people directly, many of whom had faced unimaginable suffering hosted by RRSG and Reading City of Sanctuary.
“Wonderful experience. I really enjoyed it. I learned so many things from nature. Thanks for letting me join.” Rakshana
Our relationship with the University added an extra layer to our walks, with several professors committed to community outreach, attending to share details of UoR’s Sanctuary Scholarships.
“To witness and be part of refugees and asylum seekers from troubled nations enjoying a walk in nature and putting their troubles aside for a while has been magical to behold. Who would have thought that finding an acorn or conker would bring big smiles to faces adapting to a new land? New friendships formed across language barriers. I think we have all learnt something new about ourselves and new strategies to cope with life’s stresses.” Maria Baker, Afghan Resettlement Team, Reading Refugee Support Group