Osprey Outdoors

The Osprey Outdoors ethos is simple – to use the great outdoors and nature as the setting for activities and tasks that people struggling with a variety of challenges can take part in, and in doing so help to regain their confidence and self-esteem and a greater sense of wellbeing.

Small achievable tasks are set in a supportive and friendly team environment that encourages new skills to be learnt, connections to be forged and accomplishments celebrated.

The activities are many and varied and are usually local to where people live or in the nearby countryside, including clearing footpaths, scrub management, hedge planting, building stiles and cutting back hedgerows and trees. Bushcraft and conservation skills are taught and honed and all tasks are carried out with hand tools and of course closely supervised by qualified team leaders. Other days involve walking and exploring the countryside learning to map read and navigate.

The impact is significant and often life-changing for participants who in addition to rebuilding their self-esteem, start to regain fitness levels lost due to poor health and lifestyle choices. Many also gain the ability to socialise and join in having been socially isolated for a number of reasons and perhaps most importantly feel ‘a sense of belonging’, achieved through a non-judgemental approach to other aspects of their lives.

Running these days and events of course costs money, so Osprey approached the Society of Merchant Venturers for a charitable grant of £4000 in order to support the delivery of 47 outdoor activity days under the banner of ‘Osprey 20:20 Vision, Broaden Your Horizons’. Between November 2019 and March 2020. A total of 76 different people took part, with each person attending several sessions relevant to their interests.

Did all this wonderful outdoor activity make a difference? Yes!

Osprey carried out a short survey the week before the first lockdown in March 2020 with the individuals who took part in the activity days. The results are incredibly heartening:

● 92% of participants said that they had an increased sense of wellbeing
● 100% had increased fitness levels
● 85% had lower anxiety levels
● 87% had increased confidence levels in their ability to carry out tasks

The local community has also benefited and felt the positive impact:

Reptile and Amphibian Group “This work would have taken us and our volunteers many days to complete, but when Osprey turns up, we get it all done – and more, in one day. Thank you for your help in managing this pond project for the Great Crested Newts.”

Avon Wildlife Trust “The three days Osprey spent with us at Dolebury Warren has enabled us to complete the brash removal on this ancient monument before the bird nesting season begins – which is when we have to stop this work for the year. Without your groups – who work so well together – we would have had to stop and wait for the autumn to finish.”

Worlebury Hillfort volunteers “We are a small group of five who come here regularly. When Osprey joins us everyone sees a visible difference. We have two of your group with us regularly now. Thanks”

September 2020, Phase 2 – Osprey Re-Visioning 20:20
Lockdown of course prevented activities and events from continuing, but as soon as it was possible, Osprey worked out how they could provide support continuing to use the great outdoors. In September 2020 they set up horticulture activities at their newly acquired community allotment site. A total of 15 activity days were run between September and December, with 44 people attending and 29 alone came to the open day.

These days made a huge difference to the participants whose mental health had been impacted as a result of being isolated during lockdown.

Here is one person’s very personal story about the positive impact on his life after getting involved in Osprey activities.

“Osprey Outdoors gave me a sense of purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. I met lots of great people and it has improved my confidence in social settings.

“I found Osprey in September 2018, at a time in my life when I had no direction, low self-esteem and was trying to overcome the challenges of dyspraxia and lack of qualifications to find a suitable job.

After attending Osprey days during the winter of 2018, I found that I enjoyed working with the group and in particular could talk things through, helping me to understand the challenges I faced and feel more positive about the future. I went on to join the walking group in spring 2019 and loved getting out onto the Mendips, again taking advantage to talk things through and also found I could listen to others and offer suggestions and ideas.

When I heard in July 2019 that there may be no funding to do anything in September I was upset, but throughout the summer kept in contact with other members of the Osprey community via their private Facebook group.

I went on to attend every one of the Osprey 20:20 Vision days that were set up in September through to Christmas 2019, and my confidence levels continued to grow during this period, so much in fact that I was offered a job with Bristol City Council in early 2020. The induction period was part-time which was great news as it meant I could continue to walk with the group, talking through my thoughts on being in a workplace for the first time, working with people I didn’t know and my anxieties of not having the ‘right’ experience, not fitting in, and meeting new people.

I am now employed full time which would not have been possible without the support of Osprey.”