Will this be 'Scotland's crisis of a generation'?
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Will this be 'Scotland's crisis of a generation'?

Mark Beaumont, athlete, broadcaster and author

Mark Beaumont is an athlete, broadcaster and author. He holds the record for cycling round the world. As an ambassador for The Outward Bound Trust, Mark joined us for a webinar in April 2021 to discuss the issues facing young people in Scotland as lockdown lifts.

Reflecting on where we're at...

The outdoors played a huge part in my childhood. There was something about the sense of freedom and being able to explore that helped me dream of bigger adventures, adventures that ultimately took me around the world. We might not have been able to travel much in the past 12 months, but time spent outside has felt even more precious. Perhaps for two reasons; firstly, when something you love is restricted you appreciate it even more; and secondly, a growing awareness of the inequalities to access this free resource that exist in our society. The stark realisation that over 2 million families across the UK didn’t have access to a garden during lockdown. And that in Scotland 1 in 4 children live in poverty, 4 in 5 don’t get enough daily exercise and 1 in 2 report feeling anxious or stressed.

The risk we are facing...

Covid-19 has taken a lot away from our young people. The freedom to be outside and just hang out with friends, as well as the more structured opportunities that come from being in school or at youth groups. There is a real risk we’ll look back in years to come and coin this year as a ‘crisis of a generation’. Thankfully many people and organisations are working hard to support young people. One of these being The Outward Bound Trust.

Outdoor residentials were cancelled 12 months ago. In Scotland there is still no date for them to restart. Of course, some children are lucky to have parents who will take them camping, hiking or biking, but for many an outdoor residential is their once in childhood moment to visit the Highlands, walk, canoe and scramble, pitch a tent and sleep under the stars. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with the Outward Bound team in Scotland over the past few years. In particular getting to meet and hear from the young people who have been on an Outward Bound course. What I hear from them are stories of hope, of realisation and awareness of what they’re capable of. They went on an adventure in the outdoors, but came away with real life learning, developing skills such as the determination to succeed and finding confidence in themselves.

Future needs...

It’s skills like these that will have helped many people get through this pandemic. I value how much the outdoors has done for my own personal development and want to make sure young people have the same opportunity to both connect with their natural environment and learn what they are capable of.

Further Reading