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The restorative benefits of the outdoors and nature and the important role they must play the nation’s post COVID-19 recovery, will be captured in a new research project at YHA.

We have received £40,000 in funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to enable it to ensure that the future design of outdoor spaces and investment in outside activities work for everyone – not just the most visible.

The funding, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will enable us to work with and talk to a diverse range of people, particularly those who live or work in the outdoors but do not consider themselves ‘outdoorsy’.

The project, ‘Outside Voices’, will present a different perspective on the outdoors from people and communities who are not often heard, seen or well represented within the outdoors sector. It aims to understand why some people are resistant or reluctant to spend time in the outdoors.

During the pandemic, we repurposed a number of its youth hostels within communities to support charities, community response, keyworkers and vulnerable groups including rough sleepers and those escaping domestic violence. As part of the project, their stories will be told.

The research will be used to support both community partners and also help shape the contemporary policy and resources discussions on outdoor spaces that we are contributing to across civil society.

James Blake, Chief Executive here at YHA, said: “We are immensely grateful to National Lottery players who have made this funding possible. For 90 years we have known and understood the importance of equitable access to the outdoors and green spaces for mental health and wellbeing. This funding will now enable us to gather evidence and feed into wider policy that will shape future communities against a backdrop of COVID-19. build on the restorative powers of nature and outdoor spaces as society looks to recover post COVID,

“Times are challenging for many people right now. But we must capture our learnings from these times and use them to inform both immediate and long-term policy and strategy to collectively improve the lives of people affected by the pandemic. I am delighted we have been afforded the opportunity to contribute to this vital piece of work by the National Lottery Community Fund.”

We are one of 51 organisations across the UK to receive a grant of up to £50,000 through the Emerging Futures Fund. The funding, from the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will help harness the creativity of civil society and amplify the voices of communities through stories, narratives and public imagination projects.

Cassie Robinson, Senior Head of UK Funding at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges to communities across the UK and The National Lottery Community Fund has focused on getting much-needed emergency support out to communities and the sector. But it has also demonstrated the very best of civil society, which has met this huge challenge with creativity, commitment and a desire for change. We are now seeing new ways of doing things that we might not have thought of before. 

“Thanks to National Lottery players, these new grants will support communities to consider how they can face the immediate impact of COVID-19 but also look to the future. The activity conducted by these community groups and organisations will generate learning and insights, and create space and capacity in communities so that they are able to anticipate, imagine and shape the future.”

The Emerging Futures Fund is a key part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s commitment to enabling civil society to be fit for the future – supporting organisations and the voluntary sector to create opportunities to help local communities thrive.

Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK during the Coronavirus crisis. The National Lottery is playing a critical role in supporting people, projects and communities during these challenging times. By playing The National Lottery, you are making an amazing contribution to the nationwide-response to combatting the impact of Covid-19 on local communities across the UK.

Find out more at

Written by Ruby Higton

Here is Ruby and she is a digital marketer at YHA. She looks after all things social media, as well as content writing for and SEO. Her favourite YHA is YHA Perranporth.

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