Black2Nature - Camps For Inner-City Young People

by BLACK2NATURE in Bristol, Bristol City, United Kingdom

Total raised £51,512

raised so far

+ est. £1900.50 Gift Aid

108

supporters

Continue providing FREE inclusive, fun & accessible nature camps for marginalised young people for nature engagement and improved wellbeing

Project by BLACK2NATURE

We're still collecting donations

On the 2nd August 2022 we'd raised £50,054 with 66 supporters in 28 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

 New stretch target

All additional funds raised with your help will enable us to deliver extra camps for young people, day trips and events for low income and refugees families.  

Your support is desperately needed to help us raise funding to deliver our ambiguous programme of works for these most isolated and marginalised people.


Black2Nature

Black2Nature fights for equal access to nature for all, a right that we believe is fundamental in the same way we all have the right to access education or health. This is important because everybody should have the benefit of being able to go out into green or natural spaces, not just for their enjoyment but also for good mental and physical wellbeing. 

Vulnerable and disadvantaged minority ethnic children and teenagers are particularly at risk of entering foster care, prison or the mental health system. For example, minority ethnic teenagers are twice as likely as their White counterparts to be diagnosed with a mental illness through contact with the criminal justice system rather than it being picked up by their school, GP or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). 

Our vision for Black2Nature is that our early intervention will get visible minority ethnic (VME) children, teens and families out into nature on a regular basis, giving them resilience to physical and mental illness.

Black2Nature urgently needs your help and support to raise vital funds so that we can continue our important work.

Your donations will help us to: 

  • Continue running nature camps for up to 30 young people at each camp;
  • Keep our activities FREE for all participants, removing barriers to access to nature;
  • Provide transport FREE for those who need it;
  • Reduce isolation within marginalised communities;
  • Improve physical and mental well-being for all participants;
  • Break barriers and create community cohesion.

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Our Founder and President

Dr Mya-Rose Craig AKA Birdgirl setup Black2Nature in 2016, after organising nature camps for inner-city teenagers.  She also contacted the five biggest nature NGO’s about their failure to employ or engage Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) communities and then held her Race Equality in Nature Conference in 2016, which looked at the barriers to these communities accessing green spaces. She was able to give her ideas having been successful in engaging every VME teenager who attended with nature. 

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In 2020 she received an honorary Doctorate of Science at the age of 17 for her work with Black2Nature organising camps and campaigning to make nature ethnically inclusive and is the youngest Briton to receive such an award. She is a prominent environmentalist campaigning for equal access to nature, to stop biodiversity loss, climate change as well highlighting the rights of Indigenous Peoples. She writes, talks/appears on radio and TV and uses this to promote Black2Nature’s work.

Birdgirl Website

Mya-Rose's parents had regularly taken her birdwatching with her older sister Ayesha. As a family they are incredibly passionate about getting people interested in birding, the need for people of all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds to have the opportunity to spend regular time out in nature, visiting nature reserves and national parks.  

Growing up as a British Bangladeshi young girl, there were no people who looked liked her out in nature, with most of the people she saw in the countryside being almost always White, middle-aged and male. The fact that they just did not look like her, had a big impact on her growing up, reinforcing her feeling of not belonging.

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How Black2Nature began

When Mya-Rose was 13, she read an article about nature camps for teenagers in America, which excited her. However, she wondered why there weren't any birdwatching camps for teenagers at that time in the UK.  When she talked to her parents, they suggested that she organised one herself. So, that is what Mya-Rose did. She organised her first nature camp, mainly with bird related activities such as bird ringing, bird photography and sketching, along with other activities that she wanted to try. Being a teenager, she felt sure that others her age would enjoy them too. These activities included camp cooking, toasting marshmallows and looking at moths.

A few months later, she had twelve young people booked onto her camp. However, she realised that all the teenagers booked on were affluent, White and boys.  It was at this point that she realised that she had got things wrong and that it was important that the teenagers who attended  should be from different ethnicities, areas of deprivation and representing her communities. Mya-Rose, who was still only 13 years old, decided that she was going to find young marginalised inner-city people to come to her camp, so used her contacts within Bristol’s minority ethnic communities and eventually managed to find five VME boys to attend.

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When they arrived, the boys had no idea what to expect but had a fun packed first evening, cooking on the BBQ, playing football and camping. The following morning, the VME teenagers were up early at 6 am to go birdwatching. Instead of getting dressed quickly like the others, they were in the toilets putting gel on their hair and getting ready for their day out, as they would for city life.

When we got to the nature reserve, the VME boys were initially tired and not happy.  It was only a ten minute walk to get to the first bird watching platform, when they were relieved that could sit down.  The other boys were already looking through their telescopes excitedly at seeing birds like bittern and garganey.  The minority ethnic boys looked around and said “oh, this is pretty”, they sat down and that was it, that was their engagement with the landscape.  They looked really bored and Mya-Rose was wondering what she was going to do, as at that moment it seemed like the whole camp idea was a huge mistake. 

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It was then that one of the young volunteers started to talk to the boys about the speed of Peregrine Falcons. He compared the speed at which they dropped using gravity before they go for the kill to a Formula One race car. It was at that moment that those five inner-city boys connected with nature.  Nature had been made to be something they could relate to. They were mesmerised and interested in what they were hearing, nature was made relevant.

That is still our approach, to find a way to make nature relevant for every young person who attends our camps.

After this moment the camp was easy, they were engaged and loved all of it.  This was the moment when Mya-Rose realised this was the key, that if you don’t have a way of understanding what nature is about, how can you enjoy it or protect it.

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This is when Mya-Rose wrote to the five biggest nature organisations, asking them what they are doing to engage minority ethnic communities, the response at this time was that they were not actively working to engage these communities.  They asked Mya-Rose to come to their headquarters to discuss this topic, however she was still in school so could not go.

Mya-Rose decided to gather everyone together at the same time.  The following year, she organised a conference which had 90 people attend, half were from the environmental conservation sector and half from minority ethnic communities. This was the first time two groups talked.  We established what the barriers were for minority ethnic people engaging with nature and also what the solutions.

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It was at this time that Mya-Rose came up with the idea of nature by stealth, meaning that if people think that nature is boring, then it’s really good to find and engage them with activities that they find interesting e.g. film making.  This is exactly what she did the following year, when she organised a film making workshop and had 30 young minority ethnic teens attend the workshop in an inner-city park when they used nature to make their films.  After that, 20 of those young people came to the next nature camp. 

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It was only a few months after that, that Mya-Rose setup Black2Nature. Since then we have been engaging marginalised children and teenagers at our nature camps, talking to them about the environment and what they can do to help save it, racism and mental health.

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This year has been a busy one for Black2Nature.  So far we have run 6 nature camps plus other outdoor day events and projects including tree planting, where we are helping to rewild the Chew Valley.

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Black2Nature aims to provide a wide range of activities, including; birdwatching, bird ringing, day/night walks and arts/crafts all based around nature and the outdoors.

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This year, to engage a wider range of deprived inner city young people, we have been running a variety of outdoor activities and collaborating with other organisations for a further reach, such as; archery, climbing, abseiling, tobogganing, orienteering and bushcraft sessions. These collaborations have meant that we have used ‘Nature by Stealth’ and in turn attracted more young people to our camps, engaging with our nature based activities.

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The camps and activities we provide are hugely beneficial to support the mental health & physical well-being of our communities.  They help reduce the number of people from VME communities needing NHS care for mental health. As a VME young person herself, with severe mental illness within her family, she is able to act as a role model and connect with other VME young people effectively. 

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We know from our families that the teens who come away from our camps are more in touch with nature, feel more able to explore the outdoors on their own and be less afraid of nature.  Our teens are doing better at school, have more focus on learning and their education, have reduced anger and stress and their behaviours have improved at home to that they are calmer.

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Longer term, a childhood interest for nature can lead to developing a career in the environmental or nature film-making sector which has a huge number of jobs in Bristol, however VME people currently represent just 0.6% of the sector’s workforce.  This is thousands of Bristol jobs which exclude VME people.  

With a combination of primary age and teenage nature camps, we will be working to remove barriers, seeking to boost their confidence which in turn will increase the likelihood of those who take part seeking different opportunities for themselves and increasing employability in sectors under represented by the VME demographic.

Black2Nature urgently needs your help and support to raise vital funds so that we can continue our important work.

Rewards

This project offered rewards

£10 or more

Black2Nature postcard

Get a Black2Nature postcard

£30 or more

Black2Nature postcard signed

Get a Black2Nature postcard signed by Mya-Rose Craig aka Birdgirl, our Founder and President

£35 or more

Signed postcard by Mya-Rose Craig

Get a postcard signed by Mya-Rose Craig AKA Birdgirl, our Founder and President, with an illustration from her newly published book 'Birdgirl'

£75 or more

Signed 1st addition of book Birdgirl

Get a copy of our Founder and President, Mya-Rose Craig's newly published memoir about birds, family and mental health. For £75 you can have a personalised signed 1st edition of her book 'Birdgirl'

£100 or more

Bird ringing for 2 people

Half day bird ringing session at Chew Valley Ringing Station for 2 people. (Maximum 20 people can attend this session which will be in the most popular date)

£200 or more

Meal for 2 at Raj Restaurant King street, Bristol

Pre-theater 2 course meal for 2 including 1x drink each at Raj Tandoori Restaurant King Street, Bristol. Terms and conditions apply

£350 or more

Sponsor a minibus

Sponsor a minibus for a nature camp allowing us to transport 15 young people attending to, from and the event

£5,000 or more

Sponsor a nature camp

Sponsor an entire teen nature camp, allowing those most marinalised and isolated to attend, breaking the barriers to allow access for all.

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