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.

27 April 2023

DD Charity Update - April 2023

By Vikki

Spring is in full swing!

With the warmer temperatures and longer days, summer seems just around the corner; and this month we've partnered with two more UK based charities that are committed to helping everyone who needs a little extra help out into nature to really enjoy this time of year!

Read on to learn more about The Lake District Calvert Trust and Harmeny Education Trust, and learn just how much they do to bring the beauty of nature to those who really need it.

 The Lake District Calvert Trust is an English charity with three main centers; Exmoor, Calvert Kielder and the Lake District. We catch up with The Calvert Lakes division of the team, who explain more about their ethos, goals, programmes and accessibility.

'Calvert Lakes, the Lake District Calvert Trust's Keswick-based residential centre, has launched the UK’s most comprehensive programme of outdoor activities for people with disabilities. The residential outdoor activity centre is tackling the cost-of-living crisis by providing a range of flexible options including taster weekends for visitors who are interested in experiencing Calvert Lakes without committing to a full week.

Calvert Lakes is also running bespoke adventure weekends to coincide with key events in the disability calendar including World Cerebral Palsy Day, World Autism Awareness Day and World Down Syndrome Day.  Activities include abseiling, bushcraft, canoeing, climbing, cycling, high ropes, horse and carriage riding, orienteering, sailing, swimming and zip wire.  Courses are available to people of all ages with sensory, learning or physical disabilities, including those with the most complex needs for which most outdoor centres cannot cater.

Calvert Lakes’ new flexible programme has been launched in response to research undertaken by the centre indicating that 55% of disabled people will forsake outdoor activity breaks over the coming months due to financial concerns.  As a result, 93% believe this will impact on their physical health and 92% believe it will impact on their mental health.

“Our new programme is all about tackling the cost-of-living crisis by providing our visitors with choice and flexibility,” said Centre Director, Sean Day. “If disabled people cut back on much-needed breaks in the great outdoors due to financial pressures their physical and mental health will suffer.  Our aim is to stop that from happening and we very much hope our sensibly priced, expanded programme will help.”  

Some of the beneficiaries of this bursary were the sixty pupils from Percy Hedley, an independent special needs school based in Newcastle that visited Calvert Lakes. They last had a residential trip away in 2019 and as an organisation set out to make a difference to the learning, wellbeing, and future life chances of children with additional needs. Pupils at the school have a range of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, autism, and speech and language disorders.

While in the Lake District, the school took part in a wide variety of activities including canoeing, ghyll scrambling, the high ropes course, indoor climbing, the big swing, as well as bushcraft, horse riding and walking in the local area. Without bursary funding, and the generosity of LGA, Percy Hedley School would certainly not have been able to attend due to the financial circumstances of many of the pupils, and the lasting memories and benefits of a residential stay at Calvert Lakes would never have been possible.'

To help assist the Calvert Lakes Trust with their work going forward, and to help those of all ages and needs enjoy the outdoors, we have donated several sets of DD Charity Edition Tarps and Hammocks - we hope that all the team, patrons and residents have many more grand outdoor adventures!

To find out more about The Calvert Lakes Trust and the work they do and where they provide their essential programmes, you can find out more via their Website and Facebook pages.

Based on campus just outside of the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, The Harmeny Education Trust is an institution that providies therapeutic residential care and education to children from ages 5 to 18 who have often had a difficult start in life, as well as offering day education for young people in primary to early secondary school years;

"Our thorough and dedicated assessment and planning workers ensure that each young person receives the best care, with their views being heard and considered throughout. Over the time they are with us, we help children and young people develop a resilience toolkit, which will be a vital resource for the rest of their lives. We do this through an evidence-informed model which has been used and adapted by Harmeny over many years. This approach is tailored to each child, meaning their resilience skills are gradually and carefully built up at a pace they can manage.

Over the first fifteen weeks of being placed at Harmeny, we carry out an in-depth Resilience Assessment, which is mapped to Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) and Curriculum for Excellence. The child, parents, carers and key professionals are all involved in the initial and ongoing planning process, and a plan compiled, with goals for the child to work towards, and which is reviewed regularly. This process allows deep insight and understanding into the impact of the child’s past, alongside their interests, wishes, talents, skills and strengths, which will be key to helping them make progress.

"Our location, at the foot of the Pentlands, allows for a unique outdoor learning resource, our grounds include: a mature woodland, pond, wildflower meadow, allotment, bird hide, mountain bike and go kart track, adventure playground, skate park, sports pitch and a wide range of outdoor play equipment.

Our aim is to build resilience and help children to make choices about positive, active lifestyles through guided discovery. By the time children and young people leave Harmeny, they will have experienced a wide variety of these activities and learnt how to overcome adversity. These will have improved their physical and emotional wellbeing, grown their confidence, increased their awareness of the environment and helped them to gain new skills and interests, which we hope will last them a lifetime. Children will learn about risk, how to take risk with safety measures in place and learn to feel safe within these activities. Through experiences, learning opportunities and education about our outdoors worlds, we aim to link with the classroom curriculum and the 4 capacities of the Curriculum for Excellence."

In order to assist the Harmeny Education Trust in expanding their natural learning activities, DD Hammocks are happy to have donated a selection of DD Charity Edition Hammocks Tarps to their outdoors and bushcrafting sector. Rob Eastwood, Outdoor Learning Facilitator for Harmeny, has already put the gear to good use, as he explains below!

"Our vision is for young people to have the love, encouragement and nourishment they need, to grow and reach their potential. Our school and residential cottages are set in 35 acres of lush mature woodland, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Our location, at the foot of the Pentlands, allows for a unique outdoor learning resource and means that Outdoor Education is a big part of life at Harmeny. Connecting to our environment is deeply embedded in our traditions and day to day life, and we are always looking for new ways to interact with nature. Therefore, when DD Hammocks sent us a delivery of hammocks and tarpaulins to enhance our curriculum, they were met with great excitement!

The donation from DD Hammocks has allowed us to expand on our work to make positive, active choices through outdoor discovery. The resources we have been given make it possible for the young people in our care to enjoy the woodland on our estate, shelter from the rain, and enjoy a nap in the sun. Thank you DD Hammocks!"

It's great to hear that Rob, the team and all the young folks at The Harmeny Education Trust are enjoying their new gear to the fullest, and we wish them many more relaxing and educational lessons outdoors!

If you would like to learn more about The Harmeny Education Trust, the services they provide and the programmes they offer, you can find out more directly on their website.

Now that Easter is over and summer is just around the corner, we believe that nobody should be cooped up indoors if we can help it!

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.

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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.

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