The National Trust’s Outdoor Nation project will be touring the country from today to find out if the UK public thinks it’s losing touch with the outdoors and, if so, what might be done about it.
Over the next three months, Leni Hatcher, the Outdoor Nation roaming reporter, will be based in a specially created California campervan loaned to the project by Volkswagen.
Leni will be travelling the country, meeting experts, outdoors organisations and the general public, asking them about their views on the outdoors.
All the views, comments and research will be posted on the Outdoor Nation blog at www.outdoornation.org.uk with visitors invited to post and tweet their replies.
The blog has highlighted recent research showing that one in four children never play outside and that a sharp rise in rickets in British has been partly caused by playing indoors on computer games.
The outcomes of the project will help shape the future activities of the National Trust, which is focusing activities around helping more people spend more time outdoors.
Leni Hatcher said: “It’s great to be mobile and be able to use the campervan as my new base. I will be following up on our Outdoor Nation blog user’s comments and tweets to see both what we are doing as a nation to improve access to and what the barriers are which prevent people from getting outside.
“Outdoor Nation runs for another three months so there is plenty of time for the public to make their voices heard and suggest what the National Trust and other organisations can do to help people get outside and enjoy the fresh air.”
The Outdoor Nation journey is reported at www.outdoornation.org.uk with video interviews and a blog, users can comment on the findings, put forward ideas and suggest avenues for investigation. Leni’s own journey can also be followed on Twitter by following @outdoor_nation.
Nicola Gates, Communications Manager for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK, said: “Volkswagen UK is proud to support Leni and the National Trust’s Outdoor Nation project. We believe that there’s nothing better than exploring the outdoors and the Volkswagen California is the perfect vehicle to do this in. We hope that Leni has a fun-filled adventure in her California and look forward to keeping up with her updates as she progresses on her journey.”
The project also aims to explore how changes introduced by the Government could present opportunities for ‘Big Society’ partnerships between NGOs and local community groups to help provide greater access to local green space.
So far the Outdoor Nation blog has generated nearly 20,000 views, attracted nearly 200 comments and 40 invitations have been received for items to film. Prominent figures interviewed include Ben Fogle and Simon King.