Beyond the boundary - connecting urban and rural communities with cricket
Written by Bill Wood, Outreach and Education Manager, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority was contracted by the Countryside Agency (Natural England) in 2004, to undertake ‘Beyond the Boundary’, a three year Action Research Project (ARP) as part of the Diversity Review, which led to the publication in March 2008 of the ‘Diversity Action Plan’ by Natural England.
This was one of four Action Research Projects commissioned across the country to test a range of interventions to identify effective ways of increasing the use of the countryside by people from currently under-represented groups.
‘Beyond the Boundary’ set out to test whether twinning urban and rural communities and their young people around the shared interest of cricket, would lead to a sustainable increase in visits to the countryside by black and minority ethnic (BME) urban residents and an increase in the likelihood that Asian participants would visit the National Park independently.
Matches were played in the Dales and in Bradford, involving Dales clubs from Settle, Upper Wharfedale and Bolton Abbey and Bradford clubs from Great Horton Church, Bowling Old Lane and Manningham Mills.
Players’ family and friends were invited to watch the matches and to take part in activities and visits to nearby places of interest. Throughout the three year project, 15 cricket matches were played and 620 people took part in at least one match day.
A 14 minute film aimed at promoting the Yorkshire Dales National Park to Asian audiences was produced, to test whether the production and distribution of a short promotional film would assist in achieving the aims.
Overall Beyond the Boundary has been a successful project which has achieved those of its outcomes that are measurable in its three year lifespan. The main findings of the project include:
- There is a demand for countryside recreation within Asian communities in Bradford.
- Twinning urban and rural communities can break down perceived barriers that prevent urban people from visiting the countryside
- Using cricket as a means to get young Asian people and their families into the countryside was effective
- Bringing children and parents into the countryside together increases the likelihood that they will come back to the Dales.
Some of the positive impacts of the project are reflected in the following comments from participants:
“I’ve been here 30 years and I never knew there was a place like this in this country” (Elderly Asian man, trip to Malham Cove)
“The benefits are about isolated rural communities understanding cultural differences between themselves and urban communities. It is about tackling social isolation from both user groups and creating a better and more tolerant society” (Dales cricket club member)