2020: our year in review
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2020: our year in review

Nick Barrett, Chief Executive

Reflection is an important part of every Outward Bound programme. Taking time to contemplate on what has passed gives us the opportunity to learn, to develop and perhaps to make a change. And as we come to the end of a year like no other, I am sure like us, you are reflecting on what has passed.

Our year in review: can’t isn’t in our DNA

In March Outward Bound came to an abrupt halt alongside most of the rest of the world. It simply wasn’t possible for us to deliver big adventures for young people in the lakes, seas and mountains that surround our centres. But at Outward Bound can’t isn’t a word we use – it isn’t in our DNA. We knew that the challenges facing young people would only have been compounded by the pandemic. Space, freedom, adventure and fresh air were going to be needed more than ever.

So we adapted. In August, after an unprecedented 136 days of closure, we opened our doors to young people again. Life was different. Whilst residentials for apprentices and graduates resumed with new social distancing procedures at our Eskdale centre, overnight school visits were not allowed. We countered this by offering Adventure Days for young people at our centres in the holidays. As schools opened in the autumn, we “embedded” our instructors into local schools to work full-time with pupils there.

What we are doing now?

School residentials are not allowed until at least Easter 2021 – but the needs of young people cannot be put on hold. Until schools can come to us, we are going to them! Our instructors are heading to schools right across the UK, taking the power of outdoor learning and adventure to young people in their school grounds and local environments. City, town, village, rural – we can get there. For sure, this isn’t what we normally do, but with additional support and training it is amazing what a committed Outward Bound instructor can accomplish, even with a more limited set of resources to draw upon.

We are in a unique position because we are being welcomed into schools. Whilst so many activities for young people have been cancelled in lockdown or have moved online, our active outdoor work is able to take place. We have delivered over 4,000 Adventure Days since August. A further 11,000 In-School Adventure days booked in the first quarter of 2021. Feedback from students, their teachers and their parents has been awesome. In the last week alone, 1,950 Adventure Days have been requested by schools across the UK. These numbers are growing each day and we hope to provide tens of thousands of such days for tens of thousands of young people in 2021.

What does the future hold for Outward Bound?

Outward Bound was founded in 1941 to give young seamen the ability to survive harsh conditions at sea during the Second World War. As Outward Bound enters its 80th year, young people are facing the most challenging circumstances in a generation. The fact Outward Bound has been needed for 80 years is testimony to the enduring relevance of our work. We help young people develop key life skills, to build resilience and find strength and hope in adversity.

Outward Bound is a charity. A charity that exists to help young people, from all backgrounds, realise that they are capable of more than they think possible. If you can help, please do so - and then we will be able to reach ever greater numbers of young people.

Will you help a young person this Christmas?
  • A gift of £25 will allow a child from a school in need to have an In-School Adventure in 2021.
  • A gift of £40 will enable a young person to attend an Adventure Day at one of our centres.
Double your donation

The success of our current work has inspired one of our donors to match every donation made. If you support one child this Christmas, another will receive funding. Every penny you donate will be doubled and those funds will go directly to benefit young people.

A final word from me…

I feel optimistic about 2021 – of the hope that comes with the vaccines, the renewed energy for what we have appreciated during lockdown and a passion to get back to what we have missed. There will be much for the world to look forward to in the coming year – and you can be sure that Outward Bound will play a part in this.

To all of our friends, alumni and colleagues – thank you for your support, generosity of spirit and belief in Outward Bound this year. On behalf of everyone at The Trust, I wish you and your family all the very best for Christmas and the New Year.

14 December 2020

Will you help a young person this Christmas?

A gift of £25 will allow a child from a school in need to have an In-School Adventure in 2021. A gift of £40 will enable a young person to attend an Adventure Day at one of our centres.

Young people and covid

We may not be able to run all of our usual residential programmes at the moment but we're continuing to do whatever it takes to provide life-changing opportunities for young people, now and in the future.