Supporting Crisis’ Progression Coaches through our Gift Your Gear initiative, as they build foundations to get out of homelessness through wellbeing walks in the Peak District.

Since the launch of our Gift Your Gear initiative in 2012, we’ve been connecting your outdoor kit to those who need it most. We collect donations of useable outdoor kit and donate these to meaningful causes across the UK, to enable as many people as possible to access the great outdoors in the kit they need to truly enjoy it.

Spending time outside is powerful. It can help us clear our heads after a long day, improve our physical fitness and, for Crisis Progression Coach Steve Sylvan, it’s one of the steps in supporting someone out of homelessness.

“These walks help build foundations to get out of homelessness”

The first time Steve went out on a wellbeing walk was during his induction at the South Yorkshire Crisis Skylight, one of 12 hubs the charity runs across the UK. Having a passion for the outdoors, he asked to join after being intrigued by an advert for monthly walks in the Peak District on the office noticeboard.

That was February 2019. Now, just over 3 years later, Steve works with Tom from the Peak District Rangers to run the Moorlands Programme, hosting activities such as hiking, climbing, foraging and building stone walls with Crisis members who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness. Anyone supported by Crisis can access these sessions, as they form part of the health and wellbeing support offered by the charity. Any impaired abilities are managed on a case-by-case basis, so that each and every participant can prosper in the peaks.

Crisis work to end homelessness through five key policy areas: benefits and employment, rough sleeping, health and wellbeing, law and rights, and housing. It’s important that all of these are addressed to ensure that someone doesn’t just move away from homelessness, but stays away from it too. As Steve explains, it’s one thing to get someone into a rental property, for example, but ensuring they can have a lasting, fulfilling experience in that tenancy requires a more holistic approach. 

“Some of the best conversations we have with our members happen on our walks”

Steve’s Moorlands Programme is associated with the John Muir Trust and aims to grow the self-confidence, self-esteem and resilience of all participants. If someone has never had the opportunity to spend time outdoors, this can be a daunting exercise, but the exhilaration and achievement that comes with completing a challenge in a new environment is a vital confidence boost. No matter the activity, Steve and Tom are there to offer help, support and words of encouragement.

 “You’re awesome, we’ve got you and we know you can do this”

The people walking with Steve and Tom are survivors – a lot of them have dealt with real trauma, which has knocked their confidence and left them unsure of their own abilities. They’re out of their comfort zones when they’re out in the Peaks, but they’re guided by people who are at home in the environment, which can often lead to important conversations about their past.

Steve, who is a qualified and accredited coach, understands the value of this somewhat more informal coaching – the sense of freedom that comes from time spent in open, outdoor spaces encourages his walkers to open up. Participants don’t need to worry about the route they’re following; they have no responsibility other than getting the most out of their surroundings and proving to themselves that they are capable of thriving in new situations. 

“They’re looking up at that hill thinking – no way! – Then they do it”

We’re supporting Steve and the incredible work he does through our Gift Your Gear initiative, by providing useable outdoor kit to the participants of the Moorlands Programme, so they can make the most of the great outdoors. We’re proud to work with such a fantastic charity, who work tirelessly towards ending homelessness. To find out more about Crisis, and how you can support them, visit their website. 

For more information on our Gift Your Gear initiative, take a look at this page on our website.

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