Stepping out​

    Sophie Brown
    © privat

    I’ve always had the love of nature with me. I grew up with nature,” says Sophie Brown, explaining how she decided to start a walking group in her home city of Bristol during the Covid lockdown. Since April 2021, her group, the Bristol Steppin’ sista (N. Am. ifml.)Schwester (häufig von Afroamerikanern gebrauchte Anrede)​Sistas, has blazed a trail: to blaze a ~  ➤einen Weg bahnen​trail on walks and hikes across the south-west of England, as its membership has grown to 1,700 in less than three years.​

    Nature heals, and walking is good for our mental and physical health. However, inclusion and diversity in the British countryside have been sadly neglect sth.etw. vernachlässigen​neglected.​

    Research shows that ethnic minorities have 11 times less access to the UK’s green spaces, such as parks and gardens, than their white counterpartPendant​counterparts, and only 15 per cent of their time is spent visiting the countryside, compared to 38 per cent among white people.​

    Only one per cent of national park visitors come from black, Asian or ethnic-minority backgrounds. The government admits that people from ethnic minorities feel “excluded and hyper-visibleübermäßig sichtbar, auffallend​hyper-visible” in a countryside that is predominantlyüberwiegend​predominantly white and less open to change than urban areas.​

    The Bristol Steppin’ Sistas have their own stories to tell about being made to feel unwelcome, or having racist comments thrown their way. But Brown is not easily to intimidate sb.jmdn. einschüchtern​intimidated. “I can’t allow that to stop me or the group going back,” she says.​


    Despite, or because of, these chal­lenges, groundbreakingbahnbrechend​groundbreaking walking groups have sprung up across the country, seeking to inspire change. The Peaks of Colour group, for example, holds regular walking-for-healing activities in the Peak District. And, with over 8,000 Facebook followers, the Muslim Hikers group organizes walks aimed at inspiring Muslims to get outdoors. Wild in the City and London Caribbean Trekkers are two groups based in the capital. All of them are pioneers of the British countryside. Is this how it feels to Sophie Brown?​

    “Yes, it does,” she says. “We’re just a group of black women walking [but] we’re going to to come acrosswirken, rüberkommen​come across as intimidating to people... because that’s how society has portrayed us for many, many years... My aim is to break down these barriers.”​

    The group also breaks down barriers within the minds of its members, aged from 18 to 65 and from all walks: from all ~ of lifeaus allen Gesellschaftsschichten​walks of life. Finding inspiration, confidence and self-esteemSelbstachtung​self-esteem is a common theme.​

    “There have been women who lived in loneliness and now have made friends in the group,” says Brown. They’ve built trust, found someone to talk to.​

    Brown has helped to normalize the sight of a group of black women walking in the British countryside, meeting less hostilityFeindseligkeit​hostility along the way as a consequence. ​

    “There’s so much welcoming now,” says Brown, with a smile. “And I think because we’re progressing, it’s out there more now.” This is the way change works: step: one ~ at a timeSchritt für Schritt​one step at a time.​

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