G230WhatsApp2020-11-26 (3)New hikers from Dechomai’s Female Entrepreneurs leadership programme climb Arthur’s Seat – November, 2020.

“Belonging in the Hills” is a project launched by the Scottish company Mhòr Outdoor. Its aim is to enable people from socially excluded backgrounds to get out on Scotland’s hills, and the Trust is supporting it through a £2000 grant.

The project, starting in June 2021, will create two teams of 10: one made up of people who’ve experienced homelessness, and the other those who’ve claimed asylum. Partner organisations will work with Mhòr Outdoor to select team members.

In a 5-month programme, the teams will head out about once a month, most likely on day hikes and using public transport. Good places to go have been explored in a number of pilot hikes (shown in our photos) where groups summited hills near Edinburgh and Glasgow  including Dumgoyne, the Kilpatrick Hills, Allermuir, Arthur’s Seat and others. These may well feature again, but it’s hoped the programme will culminate with a Munro, perhaps Ben Cruachan.

The Trust’s contribution will be used for equipment such as waterproofs, maps, first aid – and hill food including Pie Dolly artisan pies!

The walks will be led by Mhòr Outdoor’s founder and director Rachel May, and by a leader from the relevant partner. From a Munro-bagging family (Ben Nevis at 8) Rachel, now a UK mountain leader, realised early on that she wanted to share the outdoors with others. The company, founded in May 2020, is her way of doing it: breaking  down the barriers people face in accessing the outdoors and helping them feel it’s somewhere they belong.

The first hike for 2021 was with Street Fit Scotland, up Dumyat Hill early in June. A writeup from one of the party is at https://mhoroutdoor.com/belonging-in-the-hills-dumyat-hill/

The team hikes are just Part 1 of the project. Part 2 aims to help one person from each team to become a walking leader, opening up work, volunteering and role model opportunities. Rachel is sure potential leaders will be there. On the pilot hikes she realised: “I was there to assist and encourage, but really these guys were able to lead each other up that mountain”.

Mhòr Outdoor does more than the Belonging project. It offers tailor-made team hikes for corporate clients as well, and aims to use income from them to become financially self-sustaining: so, for every hike delivered for a corporate team, another will be organised for people who are financially or socially excluded from the great Scottish outdoors.

  • For more information about both sides of Mhor Outdoor’s business, visit the site www.mhoroutdoor.com.
  • Rachel May’s YouTube video from the IOC Young Leader Programme is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jh-KaOnvfv4 . Here’s a flavour:  “If I wanted to convince you to come with me I’d say: If you haven’t climbed a hill before, I believe you can climb a hill, and we’re going to do that today…and also, just so you know, we’re going no matter the weather!”

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