‘BlackDog Outdoors‘ works to promote outdoor exercise and activities in order to improve mental heal and wellbeing. It is managed by a small team of extremely passionate volunteers. We all share similar interests, which include climbing, walking, paddle sports, biking, and the outdoors in general.
I – Lynne (Founder of ‘Learn to Paddle‘) – met Andy Higson, Founder and Director of ‘Black Dog Outdoors‘ in a pub in Kettlewell! I just happened to have a British Canoeing hoodie on and he came and spoke to me and Mark. He told me about the charity he had started and asked if I could help put a taster event on to see if people would be interested. I went away, thought about it, and started planning.
Through the winter I had arranged for a full year of events. They were to take place all across the country, and hosted by local British Canoeing Clubs and Coaches. I wanted it to be self sustaining, so that attendees then had a local contact and the clubs supported those with mental health and wellbeing needs.
Then Covid happened, so all my planning had to be changed.
Once we were allowed to start events again my ratio’s are now limited to 1:6 so I have to run smaller events but the demand is huge! If I were to run 10 events a week across the country it would still only be scratching the surface. The demand is there, the need is there, it’s a ticking time bomb.
So I needed to build myself a team to help me at ‘Black Dog Outdoors’ as the work is huge and I need to have events across the country. So I started networking during lockdown, with Zoom and Teams meetings.
I eventually got myself a team of 7 volunteer team members and formed my own Paddlesport Team within the charity. All run under me and I am solely responsible for the team to the Charity Trustees and Director Andy.
So we are about where we are now really. I have started running events again and with huge success. I emailed my local BBC News team and they came out to film us in July 2020. They spoke to my attendees and myself.
I still face challenges: I need boats! We have managed to get funding for 6 which I have just ordered, but I need them all over the country. I managed to source a small grant which enabled me to buy PFD’s and helmets.
I have a Risk Assessment which I do before each event, and I do all the necessary paperwork and organising.
‘Black Dog Outdoors‘ is something I feel very strongly about and I’m really proud of my work with them.
Paddle sports officer – BlackDog Outdoors & founder of Learn to Paddle