By Philip Clegg.

The outdoor sector has been very badly hit by the restrictions in place because of the pandemic. At Learn Outdoors and the Wilderness Project we have only been trading again for a few weeks after losing our entire spring and summer season and we are already facing a rising R number and a new tightening of restrictions. We know that organisations need to change to function successfully in this new climate and we have taken the view that we can’t simply sit back and hope things will return to normal any time soon. So, what are we doing?

Adapting our practices. We are working to new protocols covering aspects of COVID safety from hygiene and social distancing to PPE and first aid. Our risk assessments have been highly rated and created following government guidance, industry best practice and consultation with the health and outdoor sectors. We’ve built additional flexibility into the system to cope with a very dynamic environment. ‘DofE With A Difference’, small group events, distance learning, home working and video conferencing have all been embraced. And when we make changes to how we work we ensure those are communicated well to everyone. It is very important to us to keep our staff, customers and the general public safe and happy.

Evolving the services we offer. It’s essential we work closely with our customers to find out what they need and how we can safely and effectively deliver that. We can’t currently take school groups camping but we can work close-to-home with them on expeditions that see them sleeping in their own beds each night. We’ve developed Creative Craft workshops that can easily be delivered in schools and workplaces and we are filming our new, updated DofE first aid training video.

Maintaining high standards. We have always prided ourselves on our high standard of delivery and customer service. The need to take COVID-safety just as seriously is obvious and we are adopting that same level of quality assurance in our approach to the virus. Organisations in the outdoor sector need to be exemplars of good practice and inspire the confidence of everyone we come across in our work. We’re used to effectively managing risk on a daily basis and are well placed to maintain safe and robust ways of operating under COVID.

We’ll be very happy to see the back of Coronavirus but in the meantime we fully intend to keep going forward in a positive, safe and flexible manner. Stay well and we look forward to seeing you in the great outdoors soon.