Gift Your Gear September 2015 – Reflection

Gift Your Gear A2015

Now the dust has settled on the last Gift Your Gear collection in Rohan shops it’s time for reflection.

Rohan customers helped to generated a record volume of good quality outdoor clothing. It has taken us nearly a month to collect it all together at the Gift Your Gear depot in Manchester, sort it and distribute it to the Gift Your Gear beneficiary groups all over the country.

Over the month we have handled gear from a wide section of the global outdoor gear industry. In fact one of the observation this time, was the amount of donated gear made by USA brands in particular REI and Patagonia was greatly increased. Patagonia gear is always well represented at Gift Your Gear collections. This has now been swelled by many more home based American brands.

However this post is intended more to be more reflection than observation.

This collection has taken the Gift Your Gear beneficiary groups to over 400. This is a milestone when set against a back drop of the problems these groups are facing.

During the days spent sorting the gear. Something quite fundamental came into much sharper focus. The traditional route for many young people into the outdoor in the UK has been through outdoor education delivered by many organisations including charities, DofE groups, scouts, guides, schools, local youth clubs/groups and outdoor centres. Through my work with Gift Your Gear, which  has now supplied over 400 groups with donated unwanted outdoor gear, I have learnt about the problems organisers of these groups are facing. Dwindling funding being one of the biggest problem and lack of appreciation of the results outdoor education can deliver. I have personally witnessed highly motivated, experienced and qualified people who spend most of their spare time out on the hills with young people demoralised due to the problems and lack of support and understanding.

There is a lot of energy going into looking for a solution to the dwindling numbers of young people getting active. Much of this is directed outside of the outdoor education sector. Isn’t this exactly where we should be concentrating our collective efforts? Where are we going to find the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts if we don’t get young people to love and respect the great outdoors.

It’s a very big ask to take a person off the sofa and encourage her or him to walk to the local park and from there, overtime, to spend days and nights in our outdoor areas.

Ever weekend there are many groups travelling up and down our motorways in minibuses in transit to and from our National Parks. Many of these groups consists of young people with their dedicated leaders/organisers/volunteers from our inner cities and urban areas. Their mission is to give the young people in their charge a deep appreciation of the outdoors, whatever the weather.  Many urbanised young people will never make it to the top of Ben Nevis but will hopefully, enjoy being outdoors in their local urban environment. We need to do more to help and encourage the young people who could make the journey to the top of Ben Nevis, Snowdon or Scarfell Pike?

If you donated your gear you have done exactly that. Who knows it may be in one of the mini buses now.

Thank you.

Until next time

Sarah Howcroft –  Founder Gift Your Gear

The Album:
Gift Your Gear Rohan Winter 2015

Rohan Heritage


  1. Peter Clinch says:

    The local outdoor centre ( run by Dundee City Council) has a holiday program for kids, and they’re generally pretty well subscribed, so I don’t think you need to force kids out.

    A big problem beyond equipment resources is likely matching young people with suitably experienced leaders/mentors: a friend of mine gave up running a Venture unit about 25 years ago because the bureaucracy was getting stupid even back then, and it’s certainly got a lot worse since. The sea kayak club I’m in reacted to child protection requirements by simply closing the club to under-18s, and so on.

    That’s a different problem from money as that’s the voluntary side. But places like Ancrum rely on council (i.e., public) funding and in the austerity world that’s increasingly threatened. As well as that, the council add useful support to voluntary clubs working in the area (the junior cycle club I coach at owes a great deal to the local council, and certainly appreciates the re-surfacing and fencing of the local velodrome and getting Commonwealth Games legacy funds for development of local MTB trails). We have some public funding at the moment. Take it away and I don’t think anything will improve thanks to corporate philanthropy and independence, and I’d be surprised if it even got things on to an even keel with the current situation.

    • strider says:

      Peter – a very good post but doesn’t it say it all say it all about funding? Freedom comes from detaching from the influence of the manifold national/local bureaucracies?

      I for one would be more inclined to give if there was no involvement by the “here today/gone tomorrow” dead hand of central or local authorities. Sustrans for example.

      In my experience people in general will give freely of their time and money but not if it involves some state supported quango.

      There’s a very old (and bad) joke that goes – “Lavatories of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains”. I know that’s a bit cheap and by-the-bye. I just threw it in for light relief!

      But wasn’t Britain and most of the rest of respectable western civilization built on self-reliance and not cowtowing to local or national politicians? We all know what happens when we think the “state” is paramount.


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