EDINBURGH woman Asmae Rami undertook Forestry Commission Scotland’s Volunteer Community Champion programme in 2016 and now three years on is closely involved in encouraging more people, particularly those from black minority ethnic groups (BME), to explore Scotland’s stunning countryside and enjoy what their country has to offer.
As she took up the VCC programme, Asmae, 38, was still in the initial stages of setting up Health For You, a social enterprise group to encourage families to explore Scotland’s woodlands and greenspaces.
Her main aim was to help others experience group walks and activities throughout various outdoor locations in and around Edinburgh.
To support the development of the group, Asmae decided to participate in the VCC programme to broaden her knowledge of the woodlands and learn how she could best lead and deliver outdoor activities suited to individual groups and tailored for their needs.
Asmae said: “I chose to become a VCC to learn more about Scotland’s woodlands. With our culture and heritage, BME groups are not used to having access to, or being part of, an outdoor community. Many have no idea how beautiful Scotland is and how accessible its woodlands and green spaces are.”
She added: “Health For You is designed to encourage BME groups to learn more about these versatile outdoor spaces and be inspired to visit them, along with a group of people from similar backgrounds and cultures.”
As part of the VCC programme, Asmae created and delivered four woodland-based activities within her local community as she gained better knowledge of her natural surroundings.
During this time, she widened her outdoor knowledge and community network in Edinburgh, participated in first aid training, developed her woodland arts and crafts skills and completed the John Muir Leadership training programme – named after the Scot who founded North America’s national parks.
Asmae added: “Becoming a VCC has led me to forming some lasting friendships with Forestry Commission Scotland trainers and other Community Champions. The programme has been invaluable to me and the Health For You group, and I hope to continue to inspire families to get outdoors and build strong bonds with their community.”
The VCC initiative was set up by Forestry Commission Scotland to promote access to local woodlands regardless of a person’s race, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, religion or beliefs, and is delivered in with the Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations.