Concept and aims
The Getaway project was devised by Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership (GCRP) in response to data showing that black and ethnic minority communities did not have equal access to rural spaces in the UK, with some groups therefore unable to access the health and wellbeing benefits associated with enjoying nature and the outdoors.
GCRP made a commitment to address these inequalities, especially in the wake of an increase in knife crime and gang-related violence in their target area of Gloucester. Underpinned by the belief that the countryside is for everyone, and that young people should feel confident to travel independently by rail, the partnership set about developing opportunities for young people from diverse backgrounds to access the health and wellbeing benefits of Gloucestershire’s rural spaces.
GCRP established partnerships with two community organisations, The Friendship Cafe, and The Music Works, to engage young people in the programme and deliver a range of new rural experiences. The young people actively took the lead in co-designing the days out, working together with trusted youth leaders to plan experiences based in rural destinations accessible by rail.
A series of ten day-trips were delivered as part of the project, engaging 117 young people in 38 inspiring new experiences to expand their horizons, learn new skills, and gain confidence and independence through rail travel. These included canoeing, farming, bushcraft, mountain biking, and outdoor cooking. The 16-25yrs cohort also created vlogs for online platforms, encouraging others to take up new activities and develop their own creative skills.
GCRP said the true success of the scheme was its impact on raising the aspirations of the young people involved. While the partnership designed the project to increase opportunities for young people to engage with nature and access wellbeing and health benefits, they did not envisage that as a result of them gaining new skills and experiences, many of the group would be inspired to carve out new career paths for themselves, including in rail.Participants said the scheme had helped them to develop positive mindsets, allowed them to make new friendships, and opened their mind to rail travel, particularly to access rural spaces. The project has seen some of the young people move into employment, start-up businesses, invest in themselves to develop further creative skills, and explore the idea of setting up their own Community Interest Company, all as a result of co-designing the experiences and exploring the outdoors in a space they felt safe in.