The Great Outdoors

A charity which operates in disadvantaged areas to offer people the chance to explore their local environment is continuing to enjoy the benefits of the award of a Smiley Bus from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

Community By Nature (Community Roots), previously known as Sefton Play Council, works with chidren, young people and adult in areas of social and economic disadvantage to give them a release from their often chaotic lives by providing new education settings for schools and community groups.

They were awarded a Smiley Bus several years ago, which has proved “invaluable” for their work.

“Community by Nature provides facilitated play and forest school sessions to disadvantaged children and young people in the Liverpool City Region including children with disabilities,” says the charity’s CEO, Kate Jameson.

“We also provide support, training, advice and affordable resources to member organisations who work with children and young people. 

“And we provide training, community training and support activities for people in communities of high deprivation who typically have a history of worklessness.

“Our van is invaluable to our work – enabling us to offer outreach play and forest school sessions in the heart of the most deprived communities in Sefton and Liverpool. 

“Our play and forest school resources and equipment are too large to transport without our van therefore it is essential. 

“The van also enables us to deliver outreach training in the areas of highest deprivation.”

The play and forest school sessions for disadvantaged children and young people has helped to improve confidence and social skills, emotional wellbeing and independence and a diversion from anti-social behaviour.

Training programmes with adult learners and volunteers, particularly those with a long history of being out of work, has provided the first opportunity for people to take a first step back into education and training, and work with play practitioners has helped them to develop quality play projects and focus on children and young people with disabilities.

One young man to have benefitted from Community By Bature was previously homeless and suffering with social anxiety, thrived on the forest school element of the programme and, as a keen gardener, is now volunteering in the Centre.

Another hugely positive example has come in the case of three brothers, from a chaotic home life, who attended the community play sessions and went on to develop their social skills, attend the charity’s weekend residential, and take part in activities such as cadets, canoeing and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

“The parents continually report much they valued our intervention at a time of crisis,” adds Kate.

“We recently attended a case conference where it was confirmed that the family are coping much better which was largely attributed to our intervention.

“Many of the families we engage are living in extreme poverty and are reliant on food and clothing banks.

“Our van is invaluable to our work – enabling us to facilitate outreach play/forest school sessions in the heart of the most deprived communities where there is no play provision, where parents fear allowing children to play out independently due to gang and knife crime. 

“We also take these children out of their urban environment to natural places of beauty. 

“Our van also enables us to deliver outreach training in the areas of highest deprivation supporting the most vulnerable people to improve their life chances.”

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