By Rhiane Fatinikun, Founder – Black Girls Hike UK (North West, Midlands and South East)

In this blog, Rhiane shares her experiences so far of planning a COVID-19 Community Innovation Grant funded event for Black Girls Hike. This piece has had minimal edits to help keep the content genuine and as the writer intended.

Black Girls Hike provides opportunities for Black women to reconnect and explore the outdoors in a safe, supportive environment. We currently have groups in Manchester, the Midlands and London hosting regular group hikes, outdoor activity sessions such as caving, and navigation weekends.

There isn’t much representation in the outdoors, and participation numbers for marginalised communities is extremely low. Black Girls Hike works with brands and outdoor organisations to highlight issues faced by under-represented groups and to amplify Black voices in the outdoor arena.

The Coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affected the Black community, statistics that can be directly attributed to the UK’s endemic racism. This inevitably has an impact on a community already dealing with racial trauma. Lockdown also meant we were unable to recharge outdoors, exploring together as a group.

I’d been looking at ways to make our hikes more educational, learning about nature makes you appreciate it and want to care for it more. So, I decided to apply for the British Science Association’s COVID-19 Community Innovation grant to fund some scientist-led walks. I wanted to make the walks accessible to everyone as well as interactive. We decided to use some of the funding to provide travel passes, as although our walks are free, they’re often in more remote areas. Travel can be expensive and not having access to it is another barrier to accessing the outdoors.

We plan to hire ecologists to teach us about plants, animals and ecosystems and geographers to teach us about the land and its features. I’m hoping the project will inspire our members to continue learning and become more environmentally aware. It will also give them another aspect of the outdoors to appreciate and they can share their knowledge and enthusiasm with their wider communities.

We’ll be following all of the latest government guidelines in terms of social distancing and sanitising. If the event is unable to take place as planned outside, then we will host interactive zoom workshops.

Header image courtesy of the Black Girls Hike - UK Facebook page 

What are ‘Community science inspirations’ blogs about?  

Earlier this year, the British Science Association (BSA) partnered with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to provide grants up to £2,000 for community organisations to run activities and projects between 1 September – 30 November 2020.  

The mission of the ‘COVID-19 Community Innovation Grant’ scheme was to support community groups to explore and trial new, alternative ways of running science-related activities for audiences under-represented in science in the wake of COVID-19.  

Over the next month, we will be sharing blogs written by grant recipients to inspire prospective British Science Week 2021 applicants, demonstrating how community science engagement can be done despite uncertainty.   

For more ‘Community science inspirations’ blogs, visit here.

Apply for British Science Week 2021 Community funding!
Applications for British Science Week 2021 Community Grants are NOW OPEN- offering £500 to £2,000 grants for community groups that work directly with audiences who are traditionally under-represented and currently not engaged in science activity. The deadline for applications is 5 pm, Monday 9 November 2020.