Despite making up 13% of the UK population, Black People and People of Colour (BPOC) make up only 1% of visitors to national parks. Just 39% of people from BPOC backgrounds live within a five-minute walk to green spaces compared to 58% of white people (Thomas Reuters Foundation). Additionally more than two-fifths (42%) of people from ethnic minorities live in England’s most green space-deprived neighbourhoods, compared with just one in five white people (The Guardian). The Journalist Jay Rayner created a race map which showed people from BPOC communities are much more likely to be the victim of racist assault in rural areas than in cities (CPRE). BPOC are as deserving to feel safe and comfortable in forests, moors and mountains as white people.

This strongly intersects with class as the richest 20% of areas in England have five times more green spaces compared to the poorest parts of the country, a recent Ramblers report found Black and Asian people in England are up to 50% more likely to die after being infected by COVID-19 as they tend to live in poor, overcrowded households in cities and have jobs that put them at greater risk. With limited access to nature, BPOC communities have been left with fewer options to stay safe from the virus through social distancing. About 17% of the population – some 9.5 million people – lived in rural England in 2018, the latest official figures showed. BPOC communities made up just 2% of that rural population, while the remaining 98% was white.

A 2019 review by the government’s environment department found that many Black and ethnic minority people viewed the countryside as an irrelevant white, middle-class “club”. About 70% of white children spent time outside once a week compared to 56% of non-white children in 2018-19, the report said, citing figures from environmental group Natural England. A 2017 study by Natural England found that just 26.2% of black people spent time in the countryside, compared with 44.2% of white people. Statistics from the outdoor sector paint a similar picture, with only around 1% of summer mountain leaders and rock-climbing instructors in the UK from ethnic minorities. In order to truly have a countryside for all, we need to create space for people of colour to safely enjoy rural England together.
At Kinder In Colour, we want to not only create a safe outdoor space but a space where we feel truly empowered and joyful.

Image: Nick Hayes.