Refugees and asylum-seekers enjoy trip to Peak District National Park

Refugees and asylum-seekers with volunteers on their visit to the Peak District National Park.
Refugees and asylum-seekers with volunteers on their visit to the Peak District National Park.

Refugees and asylum-seekers pulled on their wellies to enjoy their first experience of the Peak District National Park.

And the unique trip proved a breath of fresh air for the newcomers to the UK who are hoping to settle in this country.

The visit was organised by park ranger Sally Wheal and colleagues Rob Kenning and Pete Bush, along with the charity, Derbyshire Refugees Solidarity (DRS).

Refugees and asylum-seekers from several different countries enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of Bradford Dale, and also paid a visit to Youlgrave and Alport.

Ranald Macdonald, a volunteer with DRS, said: “Trips such as this are valuable because they provide an opportunity for the asylum-seekers, refugees and volunteers to get out of the city and experience the wonderful countryside that surrounds us.

“Just as importantly, they provide an opportunity for the refugees and asylum-seekers to practise their English.

“The rangers gave them lots of information about the area through which they were walking, and a lovely local lady provided tea and cake in Youlgrave Village Hall.

“Lunch was taken along by DRS volunteers, and everything led to further conversations in English, which is a very important skill for all our refugees and asylum-seekers.”

Ranger Sally said: “Getting out into nature has a very restorative effect on both mental and physical health.

“We hope to welcome the group again in the New Year and help them to experience more of what the Peak District has to offer, as well as make more positive memories.

The visit coincided with a caring gesture by staff at the Peak District National Park’s headquarters at Aldern House in Bakewell. They donated warm clothes, boots and sleeping bags for the DRS charity to distribute to refugee camps in Calais, France.

The DRS is based at a church in Derby and is part of a grassroots movement, working to provide aid and support to refugees.

It runs a drop-in centre, and its volunteers have been involved in several convoys to Calais and Dunkirk, delivering aid to refugees and volunteering in the camps. It also sends containers of aid direct to Syria.