Illustration for landscapes for everyone

Our ideas to address key challenge: A Lake District for everyone

What are we trying to achieve?

  1. We will increase our awareness of the needs and requirements of a diverse audience of people and seek to deliver their priorities over the next five years.
  2. We will increase support to help underserved groups and people to access the outdoors and promote the health and wellbeing benefits of the outdoors.
  3. We will improve representation of voices developing strategies and corporate processes.
  4. We will improve visitors' understanding of how to care for the Lake District and its communities.

These intentions outline our long term aspirations to build on our Vision for a world class visitor experience. The actions detailed below provide a starting point from which to build – they are part of the journey rather than the final destination to ensure the Lake District serves the whole of British society.

There is a separate multi-agency response to environmental, visitor and community safety issues resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic

What is the challenge and why are we trying to address it?

National Parks contain the most beautiful, spectacular and dramatic areas of countryside in England. The Government’s Landscapes Review ‘Landscapes for Everyone’ theme highlights;

“We want our nation’s most cherished landscapes to fulfil their original mission for people, providing unrivalled opportunities for enjoyment, spiritual refreshment and in turn supporting the nation’s health and wellbeing.”

Final report on Landscapes Review by Julian Glover

The time is right to act now as the founding mission is just as important today as it was in 1949, with the nation recovering from the global pandemic, Covid-19. Changing demographics, physical and mental health, and technology mean there are new challenges, but recent research into people's engagement with nature has clearly demonstrated the value of spending time in nature and the outdoors to children, individuals, and societal health and well-being. The historic environment, cultural and heritage assets also contribute to and support people’s health and well-being. We need to remove barriers to access and embrace the opportunity of broadening our visitor demographic to everyone to benefit society’s health and well-being. The proactive engagement of new visitor groups also opens up new markets to support a prosperous economy in the Lake District, and support the economic recovery from Covid-19.

The Landscapes Review reports:

“The statistics show certain groups especially disconnected. Most visits are made by the same (better off, less diverse) people repeatedly, and those who miss out are the older, the young – especially adolescents – and those from lower socio-economic groups and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities."

Final report on Landscapes Review by Julian Glover

Whilst our own data suggests our visitors aged over 65 are not disconnected from accessing the Lake District, the other findings are consistent with the Landscapes Review findings. The evidence in our Lake District for everyone key challenge supporting paper, demonstrates the challenges and inequity of access to the countryside and nature by particular audiences, and that we can be doing more to address this:

  • Challenge 1: Young people visiting is declining (Cumbria is currently attracting a declining market share (13% in 2017) of 16-34 year olds (15% in 2006).
  • Challenge 2: Representation of ethnic minority visitors is below representation in the North West and in the UK overall (97% of visitors do not identify as being part of a minority ethnic community).
  • Challenge 3: There are many low income households in Cumbria and the North West (One in ten households in Cumbria live in poverty (including 11,700 children), and children living in England’s 10% most deprived areas are 20% less likely to spend time outside than children from more affluent areas).
  • Challenge 4: Health and wellbeing challenges, and access to the outdoors (68% of adults are overweight, 34,000 Cumbrians are experiencing depression, almost 20% of visitors to the Lake District consider themselves to have some form of disability).
  • Challenge 5: There is low diversity of residents (only 1.8% identified as not being from “white” Ethnic Group in 2011) and this is therefore reflected in organisational representation and people working within Cumbrian businesses.

The figure below highlights the location of deprived areas within 40 miles of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Deprivation within 40 miles of AONB and National Park areas in North England

Deprived areas within 40 miles of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Northern England.

The data highlights there are almost 800,000 people within 40 miles of the Lake District, and 253 primary schools classified as being in deprived areas. Recognising that travelling to the Lake District may be unaffordable or unattainable for some people, success may mean that some people do visit the Lake District but people may also visit other National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in order to secure health and wellbeing benefits, and outdoor experiences resulting from addressing this key challenge.

Covid-19 and the experience of lockdown has, at least in the short term, changed the relationship people have with nature. In the Lake District, the combination of the experience of the lifting of the first lockdown restrictions with the good weather meant we had a large increase in domestic visitors and the demographic of visitors has changed; there was an increase in first time visitors, a slight increase in ethnic minority visitors, an increase in visitors from urban areas and there were more young adult groups visiting.  We see this change as an opportunity; our ambition is to secure and grow the changed visitor demographic we experienced in 2020.

Connecting people with nature is not just important for people, it is also important for nature as it is shown that the more people spend time in the environment and value the positive impact it has on their own lives, the more they will want to care for, cherish and protect our environment and wild places. Like many other places nationally, the Lake District, has experienced some new or heightened challenges for visitor management this summer.

  • Boating on Coniston - Thomas Beecham / LDNPA

    Boating on Coniston - Thomas Beecham / LDNPA

  • Group on Hallin Fell - Outward Bound Trust

    Group on Hallin Fell - Outward Bound Trust

  • Couple at Cockshoot Point, Bowness - Dave Willis / Cumbria Tourism

    Couple at Cockshoot Point, Bowness - Dave Willis / Cumbria Tourism

  • Lake Alive festival - Pete Carr

    Lake Alive festival - Pete Carr

  • Cyclist at Whinlatter Forest - Dave Willis / Cumbria Tourism

    Cyclist at Whinlatter Forest - Dave Willis / Cumbria Tourism

  • Welcoming visitors to the Lake District

    Welcoming visitors to the Lake District

  • Wheelchair user by a lake shore - Adrian Naik

    Wheelchair user by a lake shore - Adrian Naik

Our suggested approach

We would like to hear your views on our suggested approach. We are developing how we will work together (for example see Safer Lakes) and with others to deliver the Plan. Our activities are likely to change over the next five years as our understanding and working with other organisations, groups, charities and businesses improves.

We know there are a number of organisations, groups, charities and businesses with lots of experience and doing fantastic work to provide opportunities to spend time in the Lake District for many parts of our society (see examples in the Lake District for everyone Key Challenge supporting paper) however, it is clear from the evidence there is more that needs to be done.

We wish to help and support these organisations, groups, and charities continue to do this work and assist wherever we can. We commissioned a piece of research to hear from people who face barriers accessing the Lake District and the countryside to help inform what our actions need to focus on. Their recommendations are to:

  • Recommendation 1: Re-define engagement success and blur the boundaries of the Lake District National Park, for example through outreach activities.
  • Recommendation 2: Create Outdoor Provider Partnerships
  • Recommendation 3: Change Organisational Representation
  • Recommendation 4: Develop a ‘Warm Welcome’ certificated training scheme
  • Recommendation 5: Ensure Rangers and visitor facing staff and volunteers have an education focus
  • Recommendation 6: Put user voice at the heart of developing and sharing information
  • Recommendation 7: Create new formal engagement pathways

If you grew up in the countryside, playing in the woods, riding around the village streets, being dragged up hills by your parents, or splashing in the river on the one hot sunny day a year, visiting a city can seem like a daunting experience, just like visiting the countryside can for some people. The recommendations will help to overcome some of the fears, barriers and challenges by engaging with people where they live to explore and enjoy the outdoors.

Actions

Our actions are based on the principle of continuous improvement and designed to help address what we are seeking to achieve. Some of these actions may last the length of this Plan or longer, while others will be delivered sooner. Our actions will change throughout the Plan period as we need to be agile and respond to changing situations and changing knowledge. Some of these tasks are subject to a governance review of the Partnership to ensure we are fit for purpose to meet the objectives of this Plan.

Our Tasks

  1. Create a dedicated Engagement and Outreach Team to provide progressive opportunities for engagement either in local outdoor spaces or in the Lake District itself. Through the Team:
    1. Identify and understand the numerous organisations and associations that might already be supporting a person or group of people to make a connection with the Lake District (physical or otherwise) and to identify where they might best provide additional support;
    2. Develop programmes of activities supported by local leaders and role models to create ‘ladders’ of experience for outdoor experiences;
    3. Focusing on nearby underrepresented groups, make access to the outdoors easier by creating and promoting attractive destinations, affordable travel, and information available in appropriate formats;
    4. Improve partnerships with outdoor provider centres by developing a project to work with providers and visitor groups to develop activities that link the Lake District with home settings.
    5. Undertake action research or evaluation to support the sharing of best practice more widely (such as that commissioned by Forestry England to review their Digital Forest Project in Grizedale).
  2. Establish an Equality Advisory Forum to ensure legal and legislative compliance, to embed equality inclusion in strategies and corporate processes, to provide ongoing critical assessment, to promote the equality and inclusion work. The Forum should:
    1. Undertake an Equality Analysis of the Partnership’s organisations, looking at their compliance, governance, recruitment;
    2. Drive a Partnership commitment to the Diverse Sustainability Initiative;
    3. Establish a sub-group of the Equality Advisory Forum with a specific focus on information and communications to continually address and review the messages and information sharing routes in the Lake District including design of information apps, signage and notice boards (including QR codes), as well as having overall responsibility and understanding for sharing information.
  3. Develop formal engagement pathways, with a focus on increasing diversity of uptake and representation, across the Lake District by working in partnership with community organisations to develop connections for potential employees and volunteers.
  4. Develop a ‘Warm Welcome’ certificated training scheme, applicable to the Tourism sector and other staff engaging with visitors. Embed the training as a requirement into existing staff professional development and into new staff roles.
  5. Delivering greater coverage of ‘on the ground ambassadors’ by joining up and focusing visitor facing rangers, staff, and volunteers across the Partnership organisations, and where possible appointing additional rangers to fill gaps.
  6. Maintain and improve the rights of way network and other walking and cycling routes to improve choice of routes for a wider range of people.

Local Action

  1. Develop and promote a wider range of volunteering opportunities and packages that meet the needs of a diverse audience to create enjoyable experiences
  2. Promote the ‘Warm Welcome’ training scheme to businesses and organisations through existing networks to encourage its take up to develop staff skills.

Research priorities

  • Understanding the benefits and costs of the Lake District for health and well being
  • How do we encourage visitor behaviour that supports the Lake District environment?
  • What is the social, environmental and economic value created by the Lake District National Park as a result of investing in equality and diversity? A Social Return on Investment (SROI) study
Help shape the plan - our shared plan for the Lake District

Thank you for sharing your views

This consultation closed at midday Wednesday 23 June 2021, thank you to everyone who gave their views.

The Partnership are now analysing the responses and will update the Plan for adoption later in the year.

The other key challenges

This challenge does not operate in isolation, you may also be interested the four other key challenges: