Great Article from Suffolk Cast and Heaths
Thank you Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Beauty Team
Ambling African Women break down barriers to accessing Suffolk countryside
Suffolk County Council celebrated the launch of ‘Ambling African Women’ a new partnership with PHOEBE, the Ipswich-based charity advocating for black and ethnic minority women and children aiming to increase access to Suffolk’s countryside.
The new partnership aims to support PHOEBE members to access the countryside for its health and well-being benefits and is part of the wider work by the Green Access and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) teams to address inequalities in countryside access.
Founded by Zimbabwean women social workers in 2008, P.H.O.E.B.E (Promotion of Health, Opportunity, Equality, Benevolence and Empowerment) offers specialist domestic abuse advice, information, casework, advocacy and support and counselling services to black and ethnic minoritised women and children in Suffolk.
SCC worked with PHOEBE in 2022 to identify specific cultural barriers to countryside access. The partnership which has been developed will help inform future interventions that will be offered to other community groups facing similar barriers to visiting the countryside.
At the launch event Suffolk County Council and partners hosted a guided walk for around 30-40 women from the PHOEBE centre, who are part of the centre’s new Ambling African Women walking group.
There were women of all ages and fitness levels taking part, from babies in pushchairs, up to retirement age women, with plenty of chatting and socialising along the way. The walk took place at Snape Maltings, which is in the Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with a guided walk along the Sailors Path from Snape Maltings along the river to Snape Warren and back, followed by lunch and traditional African music.
Councillor Paul West, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Ipswich, operational highways and flooding, said:
“It’s fantastic to see the level of enthusiasm towards this important project. We have such beautiful countryside here in Suffolk and it’s there to be enjoyed by all.
“The project aims to encourage those who may face barriers in accessing the countryside to do so and enjoy all the health and wellbeing benefits it has to offer.
“This partnership is in part a culmination of ‘Discovering Suffolk’, one of SCC’s 2020 Fund projects. Discovering Suffolk has delivered a new Suffolk walking app, is installing QR codes to raise awareness of countryside access and is now focused on working with groups who have not been well connected with countryside access in the past.”
Founder, and CEO of PHOEBE, Mrs Mollin Delve, said:
“We think it is amazing that PHOEBE has been included as pioneer, stakeholder in planning and delivering this exciting and enjoyable work in Suffolk. Our involvement has confirmed the many challenges that black women and children face in accessing landscape, including living in systemic poverty, working long hours with no time or funds for recreation.
“As a group, we have been able to overcome the transport barrier and have enjoyed the beautiful Suffolk countryside together.
“We want to extend our gratitude to David Falk, Green Access Manager and his team at Suffolk County Council, AONB for reaching out to us and offering this support.”
To keep up to date with what ‘Ambling African Women’ are up to, you can follow them on Twitter, here: https://twitter.com/AmblingAfricans.