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Support for threatened outdoor centres

Thursday 1st October 2020, 12:12pm

Mountaineering Scotland has joined with outdoor sports to help save outdoor centres at threat of closure.

It has written to John Swinney MSP, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, urging him to provide support to outdoor centres which are at serious threat of closure due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Joining Mountaineering Scotland in this plea to support the #SaveYourOutdoorCentres campaign, are Ramblers Scotland, Scottish Cycling, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, the Royal Yachting Association Scotland, Orienteering Scotland, Scottish Canoe Association, Snowsport Scotland, Scottish Fencing,  Scottish Archery, and Scottish Curling.

The letter to Mr Swinney stresses the decades of invaluable life and learning experiences for children and young people provided by Scottish outdoor centres, and the effect their loss would have on a number of sports.

Each year 105,000 young people are given the chance to try sailing, canoeing, snowsports, cycling, mountain biking, climbing, kayaking and hillwalking.

These centres are a resource which is has been shown to help close the attainment gap and develop resilience, confidence and life skills in children, while improving their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

In the letter Stuart Younie, CEO of Mountaineering Scotland, said: “This year as we have emerged from lockdown we have seen an increase in interest in outdoor recreation, a trend which is likely to continue. More than ever we need opportunities for future generations to learn to how to enjoy, appreciate and behave responsibly in the outdoors.

“Adventure tourism is also an important part of the Scottish economy, and these centres play a critical role in providing employment opportunities in some of the most rural parts of Scotland.”

Centres have already begun to close, and it is anticipated this will accelerate when the furlough scheme ends, with 50% of Scotland’s 36 Centres likely to close and half of their 600 employees at risk of redundancy.

Mr Younie added: “The workforce based in these 36 centres are specialists, and it takes considerable time, commitment and expense to train them to deliver these activities safely.”

And he warned: “Young people across Scotland will be denied the opportunity to access residential outdoor experiences that have been identified by MSPs as being so important for Scottish children and young people.”

The full text of the Mountaineering Scotland letter can be read here.

Mountaineering Scotland is the representative organisation for Scotland's hill walkers, indoor and outdoor climbers, boulderers, mountaineers and ski tourers, with nearly 15,000 members from all walks of life.

Membership is excellent value at less than £3 a month for adults, and includes insurance, a range of member discounts and offers, access to great value mountain skills courses, quarterly Scottish Mountaineer magazine and more. 

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