'We have to change that narrative': Sheffield walking group aims to widen access to nature among BAME communities

  • Watch: Lisa Adlam's report as part of our Black Voices in Conversation series to mark Black History Month.

A South Yorkshire walking group is aiming to widen access to the great outdoors among black and ethnic minorities.

The group, Black Men Walk for Health was created in Sheffield in 2004, in order to improve physical and mental health through exercise, nature and companionship.

They have also created a theatre production addressing questions of identity, history and asserting a rightful place in the countryside.

The walking group was formed in Sheffield Credit: ITV Yorkshire

The group's leader, Maxwell Ayamba told ITV Calendar: "The issue for migrants or minority groups who have migrated and settled here in cities, they have that kind of cultural severance or detachment from nature and so they are not aware of these spaces out there to access.

"We are lucky because when our forefathers came here they didn't have that opportunity because they were busy working in factories and even then, access was a big issue."

He added: "In England, you know black people haven't been written into the landscape so for that matter, seeing black men walking in the landscape is something novel, something new.

The group was set up in 2004 Credit: ITV Yorkshire

"But that's not the case because I've always argued black men have been in the landscape during the Tudor times, during the Roman times and you know have a lot of enslaved people who worked in stately homes.

"To see black faces in white landscapes or landscape deemed the rural idyll is something new that people are not used to, so our group is trying to say no, we have to change that narrative and to fashion a new narrative that is inclusive and that nature belongs to everyone."