Wales

Outdoor pursuits charity given £3m to expand across UK

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Media captionThe Outdoor Partnership: Snowdonia charity set to expand

A charity that helps people in Snowdonia find jobs in outdoor pursuits has been awarded almost £3m to recreate its work in other mountain communities.

The Outdoor Partnership offers equipment and qualifications in activities such as kayaking and climbing.

Projects are planned for East Ayrshire in Scotland, Newry in Northern Ireland and Cumbria in England.

It follows a £2,920,462 award from The National Lottery Community Fund.

Research by Bangor University showed in 2003 only 7% of instructor posts were filled by local people.

Ongoing research is taking place at the university and latest figures provided by the Outdoor Partnership suggest that figures has now risen to 20%.

Image caption Ryan Gibson was homeless and sleeping rough, but is now is a fully qualified climbing instructor

For most of his teenage years, Ryan Gibson was homeless and sleeping rough in Holyhead on Anglesey - now he is a fully qualified climbing instructor and enjoys sharing his passion for the sport with others.

"To be able to get the qualifications and be able to progress was the hardest step for someone from my background, we've always been led to believe that the outdoors was for the middle class really," he said.

Karina Parry from Llanrwst, Conwy county, added that taking part in group climbing and walking had helped her gain confidence, overcome personal issues and get fit.

The charity's chief executive Tracey Evans said: "The success we've had in north Wales has been achieved by breaking down some of the barriers preventing the local community taking part.

"When we started in Oct 2005 there were only 15 community-based clubs in north west Wales and now there are over 100.

"We wanted to create clear pathways so that if someone was interested in a particular activity they could move from beginner to instructor."

Image caption Karina Parry said taking part in group climbing and walking had helped her gain confidence

The charity said between 2006 and March 2019 it had reached more than 120,000 people, invested £700,000 to train more than 4,500 volunteers and supported more than 500 unemployed people into sustained employment

Joe Ferns, director of UK funding at The National Lottery Community Fund, said the grant would "help more people achieve their potential through outdoor activities and break the cultural cycle where local natural resources are seen as something only for tourists".

"This project is ultimately helping communities across the UK to thrive," he said.

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