Northern Ireland news

People from deprived areas of NI visit outdoors less often than those from affluent parts, survey finds

New research suggests the outdoors is not being enjoyed equally across society

PEOPLE from deprived areas of Northern Ireland visit the outdoors less often than those from affluent parts, a new survey has found.

The research suggests the outdoors is not being enjoyed equally across society with the Covid-19 lockdown exacerbating long-standing issues.

The study reveals 50 per cent of people from the north's most deprived areas visit outdoors at least once a week, compared to 82 per cent of those from affluent regions.

The findings also show during November and December last year, more than a third of people in the north took no visits to the outdoors.

The research is from a report 'Outdoor Recreation: People, Nature and Health', which looked at the health benefits of the outdoors.

It found the coronvirus crisis played a big role with 44 per cent reporting decreased participation compared to the same months in 2019, largely due to a desire to follow lockdown rules and worries about catching or spreading the virus.

The pandemic was not the only barrier to people getting outdoors with long-standing issues stopping certain demographic groups visiting the natural environment, including those with no car and people with disabilities, while one in three do not have green space with easy walking distance of their home.

Dawson Stelfox, chair of Outdoor Recreation NI, said: "To maximise the benefits of engaging with the outdoors, we need to ensure 90 per cent of the population are within a five-minute walk of quality green/blue space.

"This is a key target for Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland and we are calling upon the Northern Ireland Executive to incorporate this within the forthcoming Programme for government."

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