Mosaic BME

Diary of a visit

17 - 18 October 2009

Potential ‘community champions’ from ethnic minority groups were invited to spend a weekend in the New Forest so they could experience the many benefits that national parks offer.  

The visit was part of the Mosaic Project, which is a national scheme to build links between black and ethnic minority communities and national parks.  

Although minority ethnic groups make up about 10 per cent of the UK population, they account for only one per cent of visitors to national parks, so the Mosaic Project was set up to bring about change.  

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.  Influential people from ethnic minorities are trained to become community champions and are equipped with skills to promote national parks.  

This diary of the weekend in the New Forest was written by Joanna Yeung, one of nine potential community champions invited by the National Park Authority in support of the Mosaic Project.

The visit started with the sun shining at Brockenhurst train station; Clare Taylor, the Mosaic Project Officer, had set the trip up and organised transport and accommodation.  A nearby bicycle hire shop was already very busy; visitors are encouraged to cycle as it is one of the best ways to explore the New Forest. We were greeted by Nigel Matthews, the National Park Authority’s Head of Visitor and Recreation Services, who organised and guided our fact-finding mission.  

The first stop was at the local information point, a bookshop in Brockenhurst.  This is particularly useful for people arriving unprepared, as it provides the maps and latest information they need to make the most out of their visit.  

On the way to the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst, Nigel told us that there are over 7,000 commoners’ animals roaming in the National Park. These animals, such as pigs, horses, donkeys, cattle and sheep, are owned by people who live in the Forest.  Visitors are reminded to drive with care, close the gates, do not feed or touch the animals and try to keep to the Forest’s paths.

The next stop was at the Reptile Centre, but as it was autumn, most of the reptiles were hibernating in their enclosures.  Fortunately, October is deer mating season so there were plenty of deer to see at the viewing platform at Bolderwood.

At the end of our first day, Nigel reminded us how important it is for national parks to engage the views and opinions of the culturally diverse communities who are entitled to use such open green space. Consultation also helps the National Park Authorities to better plan their work and manage visitors’ expectations.  

The second day’s visit was to Lepe Country Park, where the park’s ranger, Sarah, was our guide.  She said many different people come to enjoy the facilities offered by the country park: residents walk their dogs by the seafront, families take part in the family-friendly weekend activity programme, the Friends of Lepe use the barbecue facilities for parties and weddings and local school children enjoy pond dipping and the nature trail.

We had the opportunity to try bird-watching and to walk by the seaside exploring the seaweed, shells and small sea creatures.

By the end of the visit, we were all very excited by the opportunities that the New Forest National Park has to offer people of all backgrounds.  We are looking forward to building links between the national parks and culturally diverse groups and to sustaining that relationship long after the funding ends for the Mosaic Project in 2012.

Joanna Yeung
  1. Mosaic BME
  2. Final celebration
  3. Annual event 2011
  4. Diary of a visit (you are here)
  5. Beaulieu visit
  6. Mosaic group leaders’ visit
  7. Chinese visit spring 2010
  8. Ladies day out
  9. More trips and events
  10. New Forest placement

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