Get out of town

waterfallA walk on the (not so) wild side can take you here…

Her Power Point was not working and she couldn’t lug a heavy display board on the train to Edinburgh so she had no pictures to show.  But as Pammy Johal told the audience, “I can talk,” and she showed that sometimes words are almost as good as actions.  Almost but not quite…

Since Pammy Johal runs an organisation ‘celebrating diversity through adventurous journeys’ her aim is to stir people into action, especially people from black and minority ethnic communities.  “You hardly ever meet BME people on the mountains,” she said. “But think of our heritage, think of how we could be using the power of outdoor spaces.”

A glimpse of the mountains brought an upbeat end to the Multicultural Family Base AGM.  Cathy Macnaughton, MCFB chief executive, knew no-one there needed her to tell them this is a difficult time for voluntary organisations.  The recession caused by ‘private sector greed and recklessness’ is hitting public sector spending hard and it is not likely to get better soon. So she concentrated on the extra funding MCFB has secured for group work with young people, and pledged to keep working on behalf of people who need help most: “Belief in what we are doing: that’s what keeps us going.” [This year’s annual report is on the MCFB website]


But back to hills and wild places. Pammy Johal, whose training centre is based in the Highlands, has explored some of the world’s wildest places on foot, skis, bikes and boats – and she knows how to work a crowd. When did any of us last go for a good walk? How many organisations take their members on outings to experience the ‘power of outdoor spaces?’

She touched a spot judging by the questions and answers that followed. Difficulties emerged – cultural obstacles that prevent some women’s groups from joining outings, Health and Safety rules that seem to lie in wait. But opportunities appeared too. Pammy runs expeditions for women and can produce a long list of events and activities already happening all over the country. “Outdoor experiences could be multicultural Britain’s heritage. There is no limit to what we can do.”

In a city like Edinburgh, she agreed, you don’t even need a mini bus to get to a mountain.  Arthur’s Seat is in walking distance. And the Botanics are on our doorstep, which is where the picture of the waterfall was taken.

greencityThe view from the top of the Botanics – and its free too.

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