British Mountaineering Council are helping all interested in hill walking to be able to get active whilst being safe.
Why did you start your hillwalking intitiative?
To provide top quality information about how to look after oneself in the hills – to empower women (and others) to feel and stay safe, freeing them to have fun hillwalking.
How did you understand what people wanted?
We’ve run online sessions to encourage, upskill and inspire hill walkers for the past two years and realised there was a gap; both in the ability to discuss the pros and cons of kit and route choices, in person, plus in providing practical content about how to contact the Emergency Services such as Mountain Rescue, should the need arise.
We wanted to make it easy to understand; boosting confidence, helping people feel safe and prepared when they're next in beautiful outdoor spaces.
How do you promote your hillwalking activities?
We promoted these on our website, in our newsletters, and via partners, such as Mountain Training, plus we worked with (the ever helpful) staff at the Cotswold Store.
What feedback have you been given from your participants?
"Thank you so much, this evening has given me so much confidence that I am doing the right thing. I usually go out with my husband but I feel like I can leave him at home next time!" Anonymous participant.
"Rachael quickly settled everyone so they felt involved and engaged. She made it fun and because we relaxed, we shared our stories… We absorbed helpful information and appreciated Q&A through-out. Rachael reacted to her audience and was happy and willing to share her errors and mistakes; this was very valuable, making the group more forthcoming… It was great! It’s a golden* opportunity for women to have a female-only space… Everyone was involved and took opportunities to engage… Let’s do more of these!" Chris. Hopwood, Store Manager, Cotswold, Betws-y-Coed.
"Whilst the online sessions were great for reaching a diverse geographical audience, there is something extra powerful in live teaching. I make these sessions as interactive as possible, encouraging questioning and interruption. Being vulnerable by sharing stories and occasional mistakes gives the audience courage to share their own experiences which makes for a more diverse, open, and educational event." Rachael Crewesmith, Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor
Did you face any barriers when launching this initiative? If so, how did you overcome them?
It was the first time we’d run a session instore, and being after typical working hours, it took a different format. Being face to face, we hoped to promote trust and have meaningful, personal exchanges. Previously, we’d developed the content online.
We wanted to start small, providing a safe space for people to ask questions on a one to one basis, with an experienced, approachable and engaging expert – female, of course!
Justifying costs can be challenging when sessions are not simply about making money!
What would be your top tip for other groups that were looking to organise something similar?
Ensure careful selection of your presenter; putting people at ease is a key attribute - Rachael is an engaging, experienced and qualified leader.
Have faith and trial new projects which meet strategic goals.
We’re keen on reducing carbon footprint: encourage people to travel by public transport (see our LiftShare app).
Take lots of pics and direct people to your website: we missed a trick! https://hillwalking.thebmc.co.uk/
What makes British Mountaineering Council's hill walking embody the 'Safe' action area?
By selecting local stores, the venues are easy to access by public transport, making them accessible, secure and hassle free.
Having a female presenter, chatting in an informal manner provides a comfortable space for people to ask questions on a one to one basis, hopefully without fear of judgement.
Having absorbed helpful information in bite sized chunks, participants are encouraged to compare notes, ask questions and share experiences, whilst hearing first hand from a hill walking expert.
Feeling physically and emotionally safe is paramount – more people enjoying hill walking is good for individuals, families and communities. And that makes us all happy!