National Parks for All

A new info booklet has been produced which aims to encourage more members of ethnic minority communities to visit the National Parks of northern England.

Tasnim Niaz (left) and fellow guide writers in the Lakes, 126 kb
Tasnim Niaz (left) and fellow guide writers in the Lakes

Four people from the International Centre in Middlesbrough have produced a guide to the National Parks of northern England (the Lake District, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District and Yorkshire Dales) in order to help show people from urban areas how easily accessible these special places are. The four are community champions for the North York Moors and the Mosaic Project, which aims to achieve an increase in ethnic minority visitors to the National Parks.

Tasnim Niaz, Azram Rafiq, Hamida Saleem and Naseem Mahmoud met at Middlesbrough's International Centre. Having visited some of the UK's 15 National Parks through the Mosaic Project, the group wanted to encourage others to experience the activities, heritage and scenery on offer by providing information aimed at the first time visitor.

Tasnim Niaz, Centre Manager at Middlesbrough's International Centre, said:

'Some people think there is nothing to do in a National Park or that you need to pay to get in. We wanted to break down some of these barriers by providing basic information on what to see and do, where to stay and where to go for more information. We chose the five northern English National Parks as they are all relatively close [to each other] so you could easily see more than one if you were staying in the area.'

With funding from the North York Moors National Park Authority's Sustainable Development Fund, the group spent a weekend in each of the five National Parks gathering information for their guide. The finished booklet is available free from National Park Centres and Middlesbrough's International Centre, or can be downloaded here.

Tasnim added:

'We're very proud of our achievement and have received some positive comments from people who have used the guide and would recommend it to others. I think if I'd had something like this before I visited a National Park for the first time it would have been a big help. I've been asked to talk to the southern National Parks about my experiences as they're thinking of producing something similar.'

The North York Moors National Park Authority's Sustainable Development Fund provides financial support to projects that bring social, environmental and economic benefits to the National Park. A total of £180,000 is available every year to develop and test new ways of achieving a more sustainable way of living in the North York Moors.

Mosaic is a partnership between the Campaign for National Parks, the Youth Hostels Association (YHA) and the 10 National Parks in England. It was developed in response to evidence that although about 10% of the population is of an ethnic minority background, only about 1% of visitors to National Parks are from ethnic minorities. The National Parks were created for the benefit of the public, and Mosaic works to make sure that all people have an equal opportunity to enjoy them. The project works by training influential leaders from ethnic minority communities to become Community Champions promoting the National Parks and the YHA in their communities. Mosaic provides intense personal development plans, training and support for Community Champions. Mosaic also assists National Park Authorities and the YHA to make changes to their organisations that will help them reach ethnic minority audiences.

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