Outdoor Expeditions – New Member Profile

Outdoor Expeditions

Thank you to our members who took the time to complete our membership survey for 2016. We received responses from over 30% of our AIM members.

Those who completed our survey were automatically entered into a prize draw to win an IPad Air 2, and our lucky winner was Russell Smith of Outdoor Expeditions Ltd in Suffolk. Bradley Mott and Kirsty Savidge, of the AIM team were able to deliver the IPad in person and speak with Russell about his experience in the industry and his newly established business, Outdoor Expeditions Ltd.

Outdoor Expeditions Ltd

After working as a teacher for over 10 years Russell decided a change was in order and in October of last year set up Outdoor Expeditions. Outdoor Expeditions Ltd is a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award approved activity provider that works with schools, organisations and individuals to run or provide access to high quality activities for all. They provide full packages which include training, practice and assessed expeditions.

Russell commented on why he choose AIM:-

“I chose AIM because I felt as a new business it was important to get the right cover and I felt after the research I had done AIM offered the best, this was because they appeared to understand the needs of my business better than anyone else. I originally came across AIM through the Institute of Outdoor Learning (IOL) of which I am a member, I had also read some good feedback on a couple of outdoor Facebook groups I’m a member of.  More importantly the thing that appealed the most to me was the fact that AIM was a mutual. I have always been fascinated by the whole mutual/cooperative business model, admiring companies such as John Lewis and my local Co-op – East of England Co-op, and when I started my business I tried to explore how I could work with mutuals and cooperatives. This is why I arranged my cover through AIM and why I bank with my local credit union Eastern Savings and Loans”

AIM was very pleased to welcome Outdoor Expeditions to the Mutual and wish Outdoor Expeditions the best of luck for the future.

The Bendrigg Trust – AIM Member Profile

The Bendrigg Trust is a charitable trust offering residential and non-residential activity courses for groups of disabled and disadvantaged people of any age or ability. Originally founded in 1977 as the Northern Association for Community Care, the Trust operates from a 40-bed centre in Kendal, Cumbria and a Bunkhouse in the Yorkshire Dales. Courses provided range from day visits and residential courses to more adventurous expeditions away from the main centre, in the UK and abroad.

The Centre operates throughout the year and is open 7 days per week to welcome a wide variety of disabled and disadvantaged user groups including special needs schools , colleges and disability organisations from all over the UK. Around 80% of the guests have a physical, learning or sensory disability and up to 10% of the guests can be wheelchair users. The Trust aims to promote integration, encourage independence and build self-confidence through the use of residential experience and the safe provision of adventurous activities.

Outstanding Adventure Activities for Disabled People

The Centre offers outstanding adventure activities for disabled visitors both within their 15-acre woodland site and at nearby off-site locations. Activities include Abseiling, Archery, Canoeing, Caving, Climbing, Fell Walking, Gorge Walking, Low Robes and Zip Wire. Facilities and equipment are specially adapted such as wheelchairs that can be used for abseiling or caving and specially rafted canoes that provide a stable introduction to watersports. The purpose-built indoor climbing facility is very highly regarded and described as one of the finest climbing facilities for disabled people in the UK.

The Trust deliver their programmes with a team of full-time Tutors who are selected just as much for their soft people skills as their NGB qualifications. 10 full-time Tutors are led by a Senior Tutor and assisted by dedicated volunteers who provide additional non-technical support. Up to 150 volunteers work at the Centre throughout each year with many using the experience as part of their Duke of Edinburgh or John Muir award scheme. Staff:pupil ratios are typically double what you would expect to see at an Activity Centre.

Head of Centre, Trevor Clarke, has been with Bendrigg since 1983 following earlier roles in Outdoor Education and he is proud of the unique experiences that his team offer their visitors:

“Key outcomes can include improvements in self esteem, confidence and independence as they experience a sense of achievement through adventure.”

The Trust is often asked to share the vast experience it has gained from over 35 years of working with disabled people in outdoor education and recreation. Bendrigg provide consultancy services to other independent centres and local authorities on access, equipment and inclusivity.

Funding Challenges

The capital cost of the original centre building was funded by a donation from the Mary Kinross Charitable Trust. As an independent charity, The Bendrigg Trust has always been completely dependent on course fees and fundraising to cover its operating costs. In recent they have faced an increasing challenge as some of their regular visiting groups have struggled to fund their annual trip to Bendrigg.

Further building projects and improvements have only been possible through donations and grants provided over the years. Projects have included a dining room extension, the rebuilding of bedrooms to make better accommodation for wheelchair users and, more recently, an indoor activity centre. Head of Centre, Trevor Clarke, is currently seeking to raise £1m to build a new purpose-designed accommodation block within the grounds. He says that he has found more and more of his time has to be dedicated to fundraising activities in recent years.

Why AIM?

Bendrigg has been using the services of Activities Industry Mutual since its foundation and Trevor describes the AIM service as a “refreshing change” from his previous experiences with commercial insurers. Bendrigg value the service and the level of support provided as much as the cost-effective advantage that the mutual approach has brought to the industry.

The Bendrigg Trust is inspected on a biennial basis by the Adventure Activities Licencing Service and the Trust was one of the first centres in the UK to be awarded the AHOEC Gold Standard badge (which includes “Learning outside the Classroom” and “Adventuremark” accreditation).

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