Health benefits of spending time in the Dales

The Yorkshire Dales. Picture by Tony Johnson
The Yorkshire Dales. Picture by Tony Johnson
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Over the last decade more than 7,000 disadvantaged people from deprived areas have experienced the health benefits of spending time in the grandeur of the Yorkshire Dales thanks to a special project.

The scheme offers people from some of the country’s most deprived communities a chance to get out of the city and enjoy being in the great outdoors - some have never had the opportunity to visit the countryside before.

Those who have benefitted from the project include people living in Bradford, Leeds, those with disabilities, people from ethnic minority communities, the elderly, refugees and asylum seekers and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Now charity, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT), is hoping people will get behind its bid to attract cash for its People and the Dales project.

A range of awards are now available through the Aviva Community Fund, and the charity is asking for help to secure £10,000 that will enable the team to benefit people through activities such as walks, farm visits, conservation work and crafts.

Dave Tayler, deputy director of YDMT, urged people to go online and support the charity’s bid for cash.

“It’s quick, easy and free to take part in the online vote and help us secure £10,000 to continue this fantastic project,” Mr Tayler said.

Those behind the project say spending time in the countryside can prove a boost to their health and well-being.

The charity says: “Outdoor activity brings people together, encourages communication, helps people feel positive and less stressed, reduces mental health problems, the risk of getting dementia and is a cost effective way to exercise.”

Statistics show physical inactivity now rivals smoking as one of the nation’s biggest health problems and is responsible for 17 per cent of early deaths in the UK.

This year already more than 70 people have been involved in the project through a series of eight lambing events at Ribblehead. Refugees, asylum seekers, adults with learning difficulties, and hard to reach youngsters from socially deprived backgrounds all visited the upland farm of Rodney Beresford to lend a hand checking and marking 450 lambs.

Many of the groups had the unforgettable experience of witnessing the birth of a lamb, as well as having the opportunity to help with bottle feeding and herding.

Jonathan Turner, a volunteer with St Vincent’s Support Centre, in Leeds, one of the groups taking part in the lambing sessions said: “I feel very lucky to have lived near the Dales all my life, and so within reason, any time I choose to go there, I can.

“I think it’s lovely that through YDMT and People and the Dales, lots of other people get an opportunity to visit such a wonderful part of the world,” Mr Turner added.

People should vote online at: https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/1463/ before the closing date of May 30.