Steppers UK CIC delivers services promoting and pushing for stronger diversity, access and representation within the outdoors. It supports Black, Asian and Ethnic minority communities to connect with nature through outdoor-related activities.
Through the Black Artists Fund, in partnership with Coventry City of Culture Trust, Steppers UK were awarded £10,000 to support their ‘Beyond The City’ project which engages Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities by exploring and documenting green spaces within Coventry.
Cherelle Harding, Founder and Director of Steppers UK, explained:
“It’s important for underrepresented communities to have spaces where they can be seen, heard and understood. There are many barriers that limit people of colour from accessing the countryside or participating in outdoor activities, meaning that there are many communities that are not experiencing the full benefits of nature. Our aim at Steppers is to reduce those barriers and push for stronger access and representation within the outdoors.
“So far ‘Beyond The City’ has supported participants to explore beyond their local spaces. Using OS maps we have explored footpaths within and surrounding Kenilworth. The grant funding is allowing us to provide transport and equipment for our participants.”
The Foundation understands how important it is to support organisations like Steppers UK who are working hard to make diversity the norm in all spaces and places, reflecting the diverse community of the West Midlands and Warwickshire. Cherelle added:
“We need funders to support the work we are doing because it allows us to provide projects for people who may otherwise not explore the outdoors. Being from same community that we are aiming to serve allows us to easily understand the needs of the community and offer solutions, however their can sometimes be a financial barrier.”
The ‘Beyond The City’ project began in September 2021 and will benefit approximately 100 people from Black, Asian and Ethnic minority communities. Cherelle shared some fantastic feedback from the walks so far:
Susan, Steppers UK beneficiary, said:
“I first began hiking with Steppers in May 2021 after wanting to be part of a walking group with others that ‘looked’ like me. After my retirement in 2018 and the eventual lifting of Covid restrictions my passion for walking in nature increased and I came across Steppers UK.
“My experience to date has been nothing short of a positive, enjoyable one. I totally enjoy exploring the countryside by foot and breathing the fresh air. Most of all I find walking the best form of exercise. Steppers has allowed me to connect with others who have the same passion as me, and it’s been a great space for meeting and forming friendships.
“Cherelle our hike co-ordinator is a natural leader and always makes our walks fun with plenty jokes along the way! I have found many benefits of walking, as well as a great way to exercise it can also bring your mind body and spirit into balance. It’s a great stress reliever and helps me feel more positive about the world around me. I get a natural high from walking and always look forward to challenge myself on the next walk.”
Olive, Steppers UK beneficiary, said:
“Going on walks with Steppers is a great thing to do. Anyone can come along and enjoy the experience and Cherelle makes everyone welcome. The last walk we did was to Kenilworth Castle. We couldn’t have picked a better day. It was a beautiful sunny day. The walk incorporated fantastic views of the castle as well as walking through cornfields.”
If you’d like to apply for funding please view our Available Grants here.