Essential Support for Children, Our Pledge – An Interview with the BF Adventure charity

Essential Support for Children, Our Pledge – An Interview with the BF Adventure charity

InsideOut Living is not only dedicated to providing a gleaming selection of inside and outside goods for your home but we also greatly value our social responsibility, too. Which is why we actively give back to causes we think matter. We have two incredible established UK charities which we partner with. £2 from every single sale through InsideOut Living, without exception, goes to the charity of the customer’s choice, selected at checkout. Our ‘inside charity’ is HomeStart UK, an organisation that provides crucial support to families, delivered by trained volunteers inside their own homes.

Our chosen ‘outside charity’ is BF Adventure, an organisation based in Cornwall which aids the recovery and social rehabilitation of children through educational activity in an outdoors environment. Today we’re shining a light on BF Adventure’s special work, the essential support they provide to youth and how it’s all about positively enabling the youngster to best make their way in life. So, we spoke to Eleanor Devenish at BF Adventure to hear more about how best to enjoy a flooded quarry, how challenging fun can cross boundaries and of course the importance of the charity’s mission. 

 

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Eleanor. Firstly, please tell us a little bit about BF Adventure, Where are you based? Why you think the work you do and the environment created for children matters?

We’re based in Halvasso, near Penryn in a beautiful 60 acre site of water-filled quarries, woodland and heathland. The statistics around child poverty in Cornwall are startling, as is the link between this and child abuse and neglect, as cited by a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. With 30k people living in poverty in Cornwall, it’s our mission to support children and young people so they can achieve better life outcomes and reverse the impact of poverty. We do this by supporting children and young people with learning and/or physical disabilities, behavioural challenges, mental ill health and other issues associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  We support them on a Journey of Change through a range of adaptable programmes that are designed to meet identified needs.  We use our outdoor environment to enable them to identify their own social, emotional and physical barriers and to choose their own challenges which will support them to overcome these. Studies show that the main difference in promoting positive outcomes for young people who experience ACEs is building key relationships with trusted adults. That’s why we delegate a key worker to develop a relationship with each child, creating an environment with safe boundaries and listening to their needs, thereby reducing the impact of toxic stress.

Our instructors are also committed to using a youth work approach within their delivery, building professional, trusting relationships with young people to enable them to grow, learn and develop to their full potential. Our results are extremely positive and we are greatly encouraged by the feedback we have received from parents, carers and the young people themselves.

 

Are you please able to give an example of a life changing/enabling experience provided to an individual? How did they improve their life through working with BF Adventure? What have they gone on to achieve since?

One recent breakthrough came from Steph. Steph was referred to us having been out of school for 8 months. She was experiencing high anxiety levels, would often self-harm, was refusing to attend school and had said that she would kill herself if she had to go back. She had experienced a lot of trauma with the death of a close friend and had a turbulent home life. She had suffered from alopecia through stress and was being educated at home through online classes. When she joined us, she said that her aim for the programme was to leave the house once a week to attend the sessions. Her attendance was good and she engaged well in the activities, often managing her anxiety around trying new things. She became more able to recognise her achievements and felt proud that she had used the zip wire as she initially felt very scared before finding that she loved it. She also made a friend who she maintained contact with. 

Following the group sessions we supported Steph to reflect on the impact the programme had for her and to look at how she could continue to progress. When we followed up 6 weeks later, she had returned to mainstream school and she is now nearly attending full time. Her hair has also began to grow back which has really helped with her confidence.

Steph said of her time on the programme that she had enjoyed meeting new people and had learned that “I am more confident than I think I am”.

 

How is the outdoor environment a great delivery service for the work you do for young visitors to the centre?

The outdoor environment is important: according to Mitchell, 2013 “People who use the natural environment for physical activity at least once per week have about half the risk of poor mental health compared with those who do not do so; and each extra weekly use of the natural environment for physical activity reduces the risk of poor mental health by a further 6%.”

A growing number of studies have linked the benefits of the outdoors and ‘green spaces’ to improved health and well-being. It is believed that contact with nature plays a crucial and irreplaceable role in brain development. Simply walking through a natural environment can reduce blood pressure as muscles are stretched and released, cortisol levels return to normal and stress levels are reduced.  With so many people leading sedentary lifestyles we know that all forms of exercise are good, raising fitness, releasing endorphins and promoting a sense of calm. At BF Adventure we encourage children and young people to appreciate the natural environment around them, from sensory journeys and pond dipping to wild swimming, quarrysteering and the zip wire. We enable children and young people to immerse themselves in the outdoors. 

 

What is your favourite activity at BF Adventure? Why? Any memorable tales of children or instructors attempting/completing the activity?

It’s difficult to choose because we notice such positive impacts from all our outdoor activities. Watching people quarrysteering – our very own version of coasting, is a great one! Also watching how much joy the zip-line brings, especially to one young autistic person we support – it really makes his year!  

 

I see on the website you also offer team building ‘away days’ packages for businesses and organisations, can you tell us a little about that? 

We specialise in building teams and resilience and have the perfect site for adventure, fun and networking. We’re experts in taking people outside of their comfort zones, forcing them to rely on each other and develop communication, morale and respect. All in the most beautiful outdoor environment you can imagine, with indoor options if the weather is less than desirable!

Our tailor-made Team Building events can focus on:

  • Team skills
  • Team leadership and staff potential
  • Positive reinforcement and morale boosting
  • Focus and motivation
  • Management leadership training
  • Conflict Management

Our next corporate teambuilding day will be on 25th September 2020. Email eleanor.devenish@bfadventure.org to find out more.

 

What events do BF have coming up?

We have a Charity Ball, which will raise much needed funds for our charity work: https://www.bfadventure.org/core-programmes/#core. The ball and auction will be held at the Falmouth Hotel on Friday 4th October. It starts at 6:30pm, with dancing until midnight. There will be a three course dinner with wine followed by an exclusive auction with fantastic prizes that money cannot buy! This is a black tie event and the evening will have some surprises and is always great fun. More information can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bf-adventure-charity-ball-tickets-64171573905.

We also have a corporate team-building event in 2020 – if you’re curious then please do contact eleanor.devenish@bfadventure.org and you will receive more information nearer the time.

 

Aside from pledging £2 of their sale when purchasing through us how best can our readers support BF Adventure?

Every time you visit our site, the income generated goes straight to our charitable work. You might be interested in our adventure sessions, where you can try all sorts of activities, from watersports, to zip-lining, indoor and outdoor climbing, archery and team-building games. Or, if you’re a busy parent looking for “the most exciting childcare in Cornwall”, then you could try our Holiday Activity Days, where you simply drop your child off with us for a half or full day of activities, leaving you free to go to work knowing that your child is having the time of their life! If you’re a teacher, then check out our school residentials. Not to mention, you can follow us on social media and help spread the word about what we’re up to!

Finally – and this is a bit of an unusual one – do you know anyone with a spare £2,000,000 or so!?!? We could double our reach and impact if we had a site in the East of the county. That site exists, is at Lanlivery near St Austell, has woodland, ponds for water activities and an accessible climbing tower, zip wire and challenge course and we have run groups there this year…BUT the site was owned by Roselyon school whom have had to close and it’s now for sale! Our dream would be to own the site and to run programmes to support all young people who could benefit, all we need is a friendly millionaire or two…….if you know anyone please send them our way! Check out our blog post for more information.

 

Lastly, why do you think having partners in businesses’ like ours matter?

BF Adventure could not survive without support from the community and corporate support plays a pivotal role in this. We are so grateful for the support that InsideOut Living has provided to us. Not only financially, but in raising awareness about what we do - companies really can have an invaluable impact on building a strong community and there is such a need in Cornwall, as one of the UK’s poorest counties. With such high percentages of Cornwall’s young people categorised as NEETS (not in employment, education or training) corporate support can turn this around and ultimately benefit from increased local talent. It doesn’t stop there though. A growing number of studies have shown that corporate giving improves company culture and inspires greater employee engagement. It’s also a chance for companies to play out their values and make a real difference, something that consumers value now more than ever before – win win! 

 

The support won't stop

We're thoroughly grateful for the continued exceptional and invaluable work BF Adventure completes with children. Soon after our interview was answered by Eleanor she made mention of a young girl who had been to the centre. This girl began her week closed off and non responsive on initial visits. Slowly during the course of the week she came out of her shell through the continued support of a particular BF instructor, a real breakthrough had been achieved by the week's end. The girl's Mum was almost brought to tears:

to hear my child properly laugh and have a genuine smile on her face is an amazing thing and did bring a lump to my throat .. I thank the team at BF from the bottom of my heart. 

It's these types of success stories which help fuel our ongoing commitment to our charitable partners, as such we're proud to say we are specifically helping this young girl push on to the next stage of her development with BF, enrolling her in the next stage of activities. We're also very glad to be able to provide a hanging chair in the Bramblecrest Bredon Cocoon and the very useful All-in-One Cooking Station as raffle prizes for the upcoming BF charity ball, where our team will be in complete attendance. 


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