My Outdoor Classroom

Twelve years ago, Kate Collins turned being made redundant from a local conservation charity into a life changing opportunity.

“With a degree in Zoology, as well as years of experience working as a youth worker and an assistant park ranger, there was one underlying aim that inspired what I wanted to do. That was to reconnect children with the nature on their doorstep,” says Kate.

“My Outdoor Classroom CIC believes all children and young people have the right to play outside in nature, even in the most urban areas. By promoting positive outdoor experiences, and letting imaginations run wild, we not only develop their love for the natural world, but also nurture their education, health and wellbeing needs too.”

Based in St Helens, but delivering forest schools, community sessions and woodland adventure parties at locations across Liverpool City Region, Kate, her fellow My Outdoor Classroom CIC director, Lisa Bostock, and three freelance practitioners work directly with local schools, charities, SEN groups and low-income families.

“As our business has developed, so too has the need and understanding for the services we provide,” says Kate. “Although focused mainly on education, the potential for outdoor hands-on learning reaches far beyond primary and secondary settings. Its value is also recognised with young adults or people with learning or mental health difficulties too. Although the application is different, the same principles remain, and we shape our methods to suit the individuals, allowing them to learn, participate and achieve at their own pace and at a level of their own choosing.

“Kindred’s support has come along just at the right time for us,” she says. “When you’re juggling the delivery, as well as the development of a business, you’re that busy you sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees, as they say.”

Through a combination of financial investment and peer mentorship, Kate has now been able to invest in a much-needed van, making the transportation of equipment much easier, as well as gained a new support network from other environmentally-focused Kindred members.

“Thanks to recent Kindred support we’ve also been able to offer a self-referral adult forest school this year. Held at Waterloo Community Forest Garden in Crosby, this little sanctuary of nature is a space for those who need it to find mindful relaxation, meet new people and learn new skills amongst the wilds.”

Kate and her team are now also busy training the next generation of forest school practitioners too: “We have started to run accredited level 1 and level 3 training courses and recently welcomed ten childcare students from Hugh Baird College. Knowing that my passion is now becoming a professional career choice for so many means the world to me. I know it will make a positive impact on even more lives.”

Find out more about My Outdoor Classroom here…