Spring Residentials 2023: The Broads National Park
17th April 2023
14 Young people enjoyed a residential trip on the weekend of 25th – 26th February.
By Sadhia Islam, Youth Support
This trip is highly anticipated every year. Our 2023 activities included: geocaching, dyke dipping, a boat trip, roof thatching, canoeing, an evening circular walk around Beeston Bump (the highest point in Norfolk!) and a trip to the beach. Educational Officer for the Park, Nick Sanderson, did a fantastic job at engaging our young people in activities and providing opportunities of learning without them even realising that’s what was happening.
Everyone really enjoyed exploring the little coastal town of Sheringham, it was so hard to pull them away from the beach. We had many adventures, a few dramas and loads of flurries of energy… over all a memorable and enjoyable experience for our young people.
The young people have asked whether it is possible to have a residential trip in the Summer – and we really hope that we can provide this for them. We aim to achieve further funding from Natural England (or other grants) to support a Summer residential trip too, focused on team-building in the outdoors. As some of our young people are more socially reserved, or usually only comfortable in their small friend groups this would really build confidence and communication in relationship building. The outdoor experience with the nature really is the perfect space to facilitate social development closely alongside mental well-being for our young people.
12 Adults went on their residential trip, from Tuesday 28th February – Thursday 2nd March.
By Patrick Heaton-Armstrong, Adult Support (outgoing)
The adults’residential trip was a huge success. This year we were able to take 12 adult asylum seekers and refugees along to the trip hosted by the Broads National Park. The activities included: peat coring, conservation, geocaching, dyke dipping, boat trip, roof thatching, campfire cooking, canoeing, evening circular walks to Beeston Bump and Sheringham Park, a trip to Horsey Beach to see the Grey Seal colony and a trip to the tower of St Helen’s Church, Ranworth. Nick Sanderson (Educational Officer from the Broads National Park), did a fantastic job at engaging the participants in activities, sharing his knowledge and providing opportunities for exploring the local environment.
We had three main aims for this trip; to give participants the opportunity to learn more about the natural world close to their new home, to give the participants the opportunity to have a break from their everyday lives and activities, and to improve the participants’ mental wellbeing. The trip excelled at all of these aims.
From the first activity to the last, the participants learned about the history and the natural processes which have formed the Broads. For example, starting off with peat coring, the participants were amazed to discover that marshland habitat is the result of around 2,500 years of natural processes of growth and decay of vegetation. During the final activity, the trip to the Church of St Helen, we climbed the church tower and we were able to get an aerial view of the Broads. Nick reiterated that the Broads were formed by former peat works flooding, and the participants were able to see this on a grand scale. We were able to see many of the sites that we had visited throughout the trip and to tie our experiences together as part of one dynamic landscape.
Many of the participants commented on how the trip had given them a break from their everyday lives and activities. Asylum seekers and refugees are usually only able to devote their energy to the essentials; daily routines, attending appointments, and focusing on issues such as housing, benefits, education, employment or immigration. The trip gave the participants the opportunity to focus on completely different areas, like building relationships, exploration, play and adventure. During the roof thatching activity, one participant noted that he found the activity particularly rewarding and that he hoped to embark on a training course to become a thatcher himself! The trip allowed participants to engage in therapeutic activities and discover new passions.
All of the participants reported that the trip improved their mental wellbeing, from often “feeling trapped in their shared accommodation” the participants reported said that the experience of staying at Sheringham Youth Hostel was a welcome break. Being in a different physical space for a few days allowed them to be in a different mental space. The trip was full of smiles, laughs, play and even dance. The participants engaged in all of the activities, some of which even became quite competitive! It was clear that the participants were able to lose themselves in the activity and forget anxieties. One participant noted that the trip had made him feel ‘more relaxed and gave a chance to take his mind of his asylum case and worries for his family’. He reported that he told his family about the trip with pride. There was a great togetherness in the group, and this further enhanced the mental health benefits of the physical activity and being outdoors. The residential trip undoubtedly had a lasting positive impact on the participants’ mental wellbeing and they will remember it fondly for a long time to come.
The participants asked whether it would be possible to have a residential trip in the summer, not least to have better weather for barbecues and enjoying the sunshine! We hope to apply for further funding from Natural England, or other grants, to support a summer residential trip. I believe that a residential trip, with a focus on learning, exploration and play in nature, provides the perfect setting to promote positive mental wellbeing for our participants.
Posted in: News