What is GET OUT?
GET OUT is a registered charity with a clear aim: to empower young people from one of the UK's most disadvantaged communities to become leaders in environmental conservation.
Founded by conservationist Kieran Harkin in 2018, GET OUT works with young people, schools and communities in inner-city Tower Hamlets to inspire a love of the natural world and a responsiblity for protecting it.
Central to our free, three-part programme is the belief that this can only partly be achieved in front of a blackboard or a computer screen. That's why we take young people on an outdoor surfing adventure to Devon, where they put newly-learned skills to the test and enjoy the kind of access to nature many of us take for granted.
We also work with the community in Tower Hamlets to facilitate youth-led environmental campaigns in the borough.
Why not spend a couple of minutes watching the video above, which outlines our motivations, beliefs and ambitions for GET OUT?
Why we do what we do
We believe our programme is a practical way of making a positive difference on two of the 21st century's biggest issues: the deterioration of our natural world and the lack of opportunities for young people.
In 2017, more than 15,000 leading scientists published a Warning to Humanity, outlining 13 steps human beings can take towards preserving a healthy global ecosystem. "Increasing outdoor nature education for children" was step No 9.
Around the same time as that report was being prepared, surveys commissioned by the UK Government and respected organisations including the National Trust, the RSPB and Natural England variously came to the following conclusions:
- almost three in four UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates
- young people are increasingly disconnected to the natural world
- young people from BAME households are particularly affected
- poorer school pupils benefit most from nature trips
How can we expect young people with no first-hand experience of the natural world to have the skills, confidence and desire to preserve it? At GET OUT we believe ALL young people should have the same access to outdoor learning adventures, and we are confident those with a traditionally limited experience of the environment can become some of the strongest voices for its protection.
Why Tower Hamlets?
Many of the people involved in getting GET OUT off the ground have lived, worked or spent time in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, which has one of the most diverse populations of any local government area in the country - and one of the poorest.
A 2016 study by End Child Poverty revealed that the borough had the worst child poverty rates in Britain, with 44% of children living in poverty in 2015 – 4% higher than any other local authority in the country.
Tower Hamlets council statistics state that in 2016, over half of the children in the borough lived in households receiving Housing Benefit.
Our three-part programme - offered at no cost whatsoever to participants - has been carefully designed to educate young people in environmental conservation and teach skills such as problem-solving, risk assessment and teamwork which are useful in everyday life.
Indoor programme (half day) - education about everyday environmental issues
Adventure planning (half day) - working together to prepare logistics, equipment and itinerary plans for the field trip
Outdoor programme (two nights/three days) - camping trip to Devon which includes surf school, beach cleans, bushcraft and outdoor learning.
Who are we?
GET OUT is the brainchild and passion of its founder, Kieran Harkin, whose life has been dedicated to conservation ever since he made a last-minute decision to ditch a Law degree and instead pursue an MSc in Environmental Management.
An adopted Londoner these days, Kieran grew up with the wilderness of Donegal in Ireland close at hand, while his 12-year career working for non-profit organisations has taken him as far afield as the Nepalese Himalaya and the Botswana bush. In both those remote locations Kieran's job was to manage residential camps for young people, teaching ecology and conservation in the field.
All GET OUT's programmes will be led and managed by Kieran, working closely with the charity's trustees and the registered camps and surf schools we partner with, and in accordance with our Child Protection Policy.
GET OUT has a board of trustees with a wide range of life and work backgrounds. Our two ambassadors are east London-raised actor Nabhaan Rizwan, and surfing champion and environmentalist Sophie Hellyer.
To hear from Sophie, Nabhaan and Kieran directly, you can watch the video at the top of the page.
Why we need your help
So now you know who we are, what we do and what we are offering the young people of Tower Hamlets, this is where we'd like to ask for your help.
Our promise to the adults responsible for the young people sigining up to GET OUT's programme is that they will not pay a penny towards the experience. We estimate that it costs £200 to put one young person through the programme, so what we are asking for amounts to sending 25 of Tower Hamlets' young people on an experience that we hope will have a permanent impact on their lives, their communities and the wider world.
We have already signed up our first group of schoolchildren, who will start the GET OUT programme in September, and we are joining forces with the Surfers Against Sewage organisation to drive their Plastic Free Communities campaign in Tower Hamlets.
We hope, with your help, this is just the start.
Thanks for reading. For more information you can visit our website www.getoutuk.org