Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


Open Country is a Harrogate-based charity with over 25 years of experience in successfully organising and leading countryside activities for people with disabilities. Our aim is to enable anyone with any disability, including people with physical and learning disabilities, sensory impairments and mental health issues, to access the countryside and benefit from its physical and mental well-being benefits. We also provide information, advice and training as part of our service and have produced a range of information to encourage access for all to the countryside. For example, we have published several ‘Countryside Directories for People with Disabilities’, covering the whole of Yorkshire as well as County Durham, Teesside and Lancashire. Last year we worked with 375 different people on 6,442 people visits to the countryside. Our work has been recognised by the ‘Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service’ and the ‘Duke of York’s Community Initiative’.
We lead up to 15 activities a week, ranging from easy-going to more challenging and longer walks, tandem cycle rides, conservation work, nature study, adventure clubs, and outings to local historic places and country parks. We believe that everyone, irrespective of ability or disability, should be able to access the countryside and enjoy being in nature, both for its intrinsic value and for the wide range of well-being benefits. Nature can offer us all solace and time to refresh, refuel, and unwind, which can often greatly improve an individual’s mental health. The activities we lead also encourage social interaction between members, and help improve self-esteem. These benefits address the significant and widespread issues felt by disabled people such as social isolation and loneliness. Our outdoor activities also encourage a more physically active lifestyle through countryside recreation like walking, cycling and conservation work, all of which help disabled people to lead a more fulfilling, healthy, and active lifestyle.
The aims of this project are to secure funding for 20 work days for the conservation group throughout 2019, which will allow for the support of 7 local churches in North and West Yorkshire, where we already work. The twice-weekly conservation group works to help wildlife and the environment with a number of large, regional and national organisations such as the National Trust, Yorkshire Water and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, as well as county, district and borough councils including Harrogate and North Yorkshire. Nevertheless, the majority of the organisations that the conservation groups work with are based in the local community, including a number of churches, whereby we help to create and maintain wildflower meadows, which support a wide range of pollinators and other insects, as well as small-mammals.
The funding if successful will allow the following to take place:
- Mow and rake the existing wildflower meadows at appropriate times using our auto-scythe
- Plant wildflower plugs and sow seeds to enhance wildflower meadows
- Build and install bird and bat boxes
- Create compost bins to manage the churchyards annual hay cuts
- Offer support and advice on how to manage the churchyards in the future for the benefit of wildlife
Churches often have very modest budgets for their churchyards, and therefore the funding provided by Aviva Community Fund would alleviate the financial pressures most are under. Furthermore, our groups would build compost bins for each churchyard, and provide advice about how best to manage the churchyard in the future. The installation of the bird and bat boxes will also help to bring a variety of species to each churchyard, not just insects and small mammals. The long-term aim of this project is to help support each church to be sustainable in their churchyard management, and ensure that they remain wildlife-rich havens, as well as spiritual and beautiful pleasures for us all to benefit from.

Open Country

Moment of Pride

We would be incredibly proud of this project if we were to be successful, as it would go a long way towards helping to secure the future of each churchyard, and ensuring that they remain wildlife-friendly and rich places, as well as greatly benefiting the health and well-being of the group members.

Location: North Yorkshire, UK