DD Charity Blog

A place for us to highlight the great work of charitable groups we are supporting with donations of DD Hammocks Gear each month. We are proud to be working with community engagement programs, mental health charities and more to provide equipment and easy access to the great outdoors for those in need.

30 January 2023

DD Charity Update - January 2023

By Vikki

As we take the first steps into 2023, we're getting January off to a great start by working with two UK based charities that we have been able to donate new hammocks and tarps to, who work tirelessly to bring the joys of the great outdoors to all those they can!

We catch up with Mark Cropley of Wellderness CIC to examine the work of this non-profit, community organisation that brings the joys of the wild to those who need it most within their area. We also take a look at the ethos of our second charity partner Free To Be Kids UK; a London based charity that helps children of all ages and backgrounds enjoy nature.

Founded in January 2021 by Matt Dumbleton & Mark Cropley. The Wellderness is a non-profit, community interest company that brings people together in the outdoors for workshops, courses & events – all tailored to improve wellbeing, increase knowledge, skills & experiences and raise awareness & encourage action to tackle environmental issues.

Wellderness CIC go into more detail about their aims and ethos on their website, offering insight about their passion for helping those in the community come together within nature;

"UK Communities are struggling, The Campaign to end Loneliness states that in total, 45% of adults feel occasionally, sometimes or often lonely. A study by Centre for Disease Control (CDC.GOV) shows that loneliness is associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke as well as higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.The Coronavirus has of course only made life even harder, aside from the direct health impacts of the disease itself, the UK Lockdowns have seen our entire nation and our kids spending ever increasing hours on devices; for work, school and to stay in touch with our friends and families.

Screen exposure is well researched and linked to negative health impacts including retinal damage and reduced cognitive function (thinking power), and 1 in 8 UK households has no garden. Being in Nature, or even viewing scenes of Nature not only improves our Mental and Emotional Health by reducing stress, anger and fear and increasing happiness, resilience and emotional stability. It also improves our Physical Health – reducing blood pressure, muscle tension and stress hormone production.

In addition, Ancient Woodland now covers less than 3% of the United Kingdom; 40% of that total area is made up of fragmented, small woodlands. The UK has just 47 trees per person, compare this to Kenya (one of the least forested countries in Africa) which has 67 trees per person. Woodland is an essential part of our ecosystem and has a direct impact on everybody’s lives and UK Ancient Woodlands desperately need their local communities to come together to protect, respect and improve our Woodlands. Conversely, UK communities desperately need the benefits of being in the Woodlands and social connection with each other.

Our vision is to positively affect the lives of 10 million people worldwide, through wilderness rehabilitation and connection to nature. To do this, over time we will scale the successful model for our West Sussex base into new areas and become the leading provider of outdoor activities for wellbeing across England.

We host regular events with the purpose of nurturing social connections and a strong personal connection to nature and the environment in Woodlands and around the warmth of our camp fire.

We give you immersive experiences across different themes and a wide variety of short courses and workshops – from Bushcraft, Photography and Conservation to Self Development, Mindfulness and Yoga, delivered by members of our ever growing network of professional facilitators.

Alongside our local activity program, we have built a national community through our social media channels. With regular podcasts and interactive live streams featuring guest speakers, professionals and celebrities across a diverse range of topics – they’re all stacked full of useful information, advice and tips and a fair serving of laughter too!"

We are happy to have donated a number of tarps and hammocks for the use of the Wellderness CIC to put to use in the wilderness of West Sussex and beyond as they work hard to achieve their dream of becoming the leading provider of outdoor wellness across England!

If you would like to learn more about The Wellderness and how they operate, you can find out more via their website and Facebook pages.

Based in London and providing support for vulnerable children and families in the local and surrounding areas, Free to be Kids is our second charity partner for the month of January. Free to be Kids aims to provide access to a variety of nature based experiences (including residental programs, young leaders programs, mentoring and thrive group based experiences) to help mental health and social skill development; explaining more about their aims and ethos:

"Free to Be exists to create access to therapeutic adventures, nature based residential experiences and social skill building groups that support the emotional health, build resilience or provide new opportunities for vulnerable children in London and the surrounding areas. By 'vulnerable' we mean that someone in the child's life, often a teacher, housing officer, social worker or relative, has felt the young person needs extra support in order to thrive, or has been worried about their emotional wellbeing, social relationships or lack of opportunity.

Many of the children we support are struggling with issues at home, school or with friends. Some may be impacted by experiences of significant childhood trauma or harm. Many will be facing complex and interwoven challenges across more than one area, perhaps including falling behind at school, difficult relationships at home or social problems such as bullying, isolation and difficulties with conflict or other social skills. Others may have limited opportunity due to family unemployment, local deprivation or health and disability issues.

The impact of these challenges will be adversely affecting at least one, although very often significantly more, areas of a young person's social or emotional development. Experiences and events may have left them feeling anxious, alone or as if they cannot succeed. Or they may have developed difficulties with their capacity to manage big thoughts and feelings without lashing out, running off or seeking to avoid confrontation. Some may present as low in mood or often worn down, whilst others may seem to have too much energy and struggle with managing things like classrooms or sleeping.

Whatever their challenges, we believe all children have the right to feel unique, special and important. Our approach focuses on building strengths and capacity for children who are often isolated from effective support networks. It is not always possible to remove all adversity and risk from life, but by providing disadvantaged children with opportunities to succeed and feel special, we can help them develop the resilience and emotional literacy to thrive in spite of their circumstances. Whilst adding positive enrichment to childhoods which otherwise can seem overly defined by risks and problems."
To help support the Free to be Kids team and their work, we have made a donation of DD Charity Edition Hammocks and Tarps so that even more young people of London can continue to explore the outdoors. We hope that FTBK and the children of FTBK will enjoy them for many more outdoors adventures to come!

For more information about Free to be Kids and the services they provide, take a look at their Website and Facebook pages.

We want to continue 2023 in the same way we started!

So if you know of a charity, group or cause with a focus on the outdoors and a passion for helping those less fortunate get out into nature that would benefit from some free outdoor equipment plus a spot on the DD Charity Blog to showcase their work, we would love to hear from you!

Help us support even more people, and get involved by getting in touch with us via our DD Charity contact form.

If you liked this post feel free to share it:

About the writer


A regular on the hiking trails of Northern Scotland, Vikki loves nothing more than being in the great outdoors. When she's not pulling on her hiking boots or trail shoes, this DD Team Member can often be spotted in the gym or curled up at home with a sketchpad and pencil.

DD Charity Update - June 2024

Summer is here to stay and a heatwave is on the way - so lets get as many people as we can outdoors! This month we've partnered with The Ernest Cook Trust and The Outward Bound Trust; two local UK charities who have a long history of bringing everyone they can into nature! Read on to find out more!
Read more

Join us on Facebook