Transcript: The Olympics outdoors, water safety and a new beach wheelchair scheme

Updated: Sep 5



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FRAN: Hello and welcome to On The Outside, the podcast that shares diverse views on outdoors news. We are recording this episode on Wednesday, 28th of July and in today's show, we're talking about how the Olympics permeates the outdoors, staying safe in the water and a new fleet of beach wheelchairs in Pembrokeshire.


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But first, let's do some introductions. My name is Francesca Turauskis. I am the producer of ‘On the Outside’ and your host for today, and I'm joined by three of our resident panellists.


NEIL: I'm Neil Russell. I'm in my mid thirties, and in the last few years I've been finding my inner adventurer. We're trying to navigate the hurdles disability can throw into the mix. I’m a hand cyclist, teacher and an advocate for inclusion for all.


OGE: Hi, my name is Oge Ejizu, and I am a hiking enthusiast and also the London regional leader for Black Girls Hike UK, which seeks to support black women to get outdoors and provide a safe space for them to do so.


EDEN: Hi, I'm Eden Elgeti. I'm a swimmer, campaigner for LGBTQ rights and visibility and also an advocate for adventure. I’m the co-host for Freestyle Fridays, which is a weekly LGBTQ swimming session in London.


FRAN: Welcome to the show. So for this first episode, I'm gonna use this segment to just set a bit of a scene for you. We are recording this because right now the outdoors is becoming more popular than ever before. Over the last year, partly because of the pandemic, allotment waiting lists have skyrocketed. National Park usage has increased by as much as 430% in some parks, and searches for keywords like camping gear were up by 300%. I do feel like even a drink in London can be classed as outdoor recreation these days. I was down in SoHo earlier on this week, and everywhere we were just having drinks outside. So there are so many aspects of outdoor recreation in the UK, and I think that we need to talk about all of them. But each episode we don't have quite enough time for that. So we'll be talking about just three stories from the outdoors, one from each of our panellists. So today's first item as I said at the top of the show, it could really only be one thing at the moment, and that is the Olympics. So, strictly speaking, this wouldn't necessarily fall into outdoors recreation, usually. But what happens in the Olympics does permeate the outdoors, and this year in particular, we have had sports like climbing, surfing, and skateboarding enter the Olympics for the first time. We know from previous years that when sports appear in the Olympics, we do see a massive uptake afterwards and funding increases during Olympic years, and particularly with new sports. So there is so much we can talk about here that actually permeates the outdoors, and each of the panellists brought to me a different story about this. But there are a couple of stories I just want to highlight myself very quickly as well. One thing is that the first surfing gold medal for women actually went to a Hawaiian surfer, which I think is fantastic, given that's where surfing originated. But another one that was brought to me by one of the panellists you'll hear later on in the series, Kirsty, was the fact that climbing this year was the fact that climbing it isn't a particularly diverse sport, and there's been a little bit of a contention about this in the outdoor space. So that is something which we go into a little bit more detail on in the newsletter, which has gone out today. But for now, I would like to pass this over to Oge who brought me another story about the clothing, the controversies that are going on at the moment. So give us a little bit of a rundown about what's happening there.


OGE: Yeah, so my kind of noteworthy news story was Olivia Breen. So a Paralympic world champion was told that her sprint briefs were too short and inappropriate. So this comes at the same time Norway's female beach handball team were fined for having um wearing inappropriate shorts. And the shorts did not match the uniform that has been advised by the International Handball Federation. It's interesting that the men are allowed to wear kind of tight T-shirts and shorts that can just be 10 centimetres above the knee length. But, women have to wear - Let me just read it because I found it very interesting. Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms that are in accordance with the enclosed graph where the clothes fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg. The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimetres. And then they don't really go into why it has to be bikini bottoms. And they don't really defend why they can’t wear the shorts, which I thought was really interesting, but I'd love to hear what everybody else's thoughts are on this policing of women's clothing, especially in the Sports arena.


EDEN: Yeah, I mean, it's absolutely ridiculous. It's great to see some big names backing Norway. Norway's own handle federation has condemned the International Handball Federation, and so they're going to keep backing their team to do what they want and help support and pay those fines. Pink has come out, the artist, in the last couple of days to say that she will happily pay their fines as well, which is a great thing. But for me, it's just like, unimaginable that people have to wear the exact same style bikini briefs that aren't comfortable. They don't particularly provide loads of coverage. And it's difficult if you look at that as a younger person. Oh, that's a sport I want to play, but I have to wear those shorts. Then, if you have any form of self harm scars or cellulite or any imperfections within your skin that you have anxiety about, you're not going to want to compete in that sport any level because you won't be allowed to


NEIL: The fact that they haven't come forward and say this is why you have to wear this or this is why you can't wear that is ridiculous and it removes their credibility massively because they should at least be able to justify their decision. And it's very hard to think that changing, you know, the size of the uniform would give an advantage or disadvantage to any team. And actually, if it was to give you a disadvantage, that would be your choice. You would think that they're not allowing a team to make that decision themselves. And so no I think it's a ridiculous decision that they've made there but made even more so ridiculous by not justifying it.


OGE: Mm. And I think, you know, a lot of people would think ‘Oh, well, it's just clothing. It's not that big of a deal’, But I think it opens up a wider conversation about whose bodies are allowed to participate in these sports, whose bodies are allowed to, um, when we look at what is presentable and what is not presentable. So as Eden was saying, you know, if I don't look or if somebody doesn't look like the status quo of a fit, sporty body, does that mean that they're not accepted or they're not acceptable? So I think it opens up a wider conversation, especially with hiking gear. You know you have things that are one size, but we know that there isn't one body shape or one body size, and things that really are catered for. You know, slim figured people. And I think it opens up a wider conversation about if we really are saying that we want to be inclusive. We need to look at things like this that make it so, uninclusive if that's a word.



NEIL: There's also another aspect about, you know, the sort this brings in, like disability and medical issues as well. So, like skin sensitivity that people can have due to nerve conditions and things like that, you know, wanting to wear different materials against their skin. What scope is there? If someone was on that team and said, you know, I have a skin sensitivity to this fabric or, you know, whatever, are they allowed to wear something different? It seems that they wouldn't be allowed to, so that is excluding people again, for you know, for another reason. There should be that autonomy or a certain amount of autonomy in there for people to choose what is most comfortable for them to perform the sport that they're in. I know that in some sports, obviously in swimming there was the suits that they had a few years back. I think that were the kind of almost like compression suits and people were wearing like one or two of them and there was a lot of controversy about that. Eden you probably know a lot more than I do about that. But so I can understand how that affected the performance and that brought about an issue. But yeah, I think you've got to have some wiggle room, some leeway there for people to go with what they're most comfortable with, both, how they look outwardly to the world and to what feels right for them so they can perform at their best.


EDEN: I think it's just such a big issue because it is the highest level competing within the country. But that's the highest level handball will ever get and it's the same when you look at swimming, you look at other sports then you think OK, well, there might not be some with that sensitivity because they might not be able to reach that top level, but it completely filter the whole way down through the sport. And it sets the trend of what you should wear when you look at the young swimmers, at the moment that I swim alongside it in London, they're training for international events. At the moment, they're not at the Olympics yet. They're all wearing exactly the same suits that those at the Olympics are wearing. So by enforcing one rule at a higher level, you're just saying, well, this is what you need to compete and you can't have anything that's any different to this.


NEIL: That's quite irresponsible then, isn't it? For, like, the IPC, and these people to not recognise how much this cascades down? And not only, you know, in this one event that you know you can't wear this, but the effect that will have all the way down to grassroots level is really quite profound.


OGE: I was going to say maybe they do know because they have a big paragraph on branding and making sure there's required space for branding and, you know, manufacturing logos and all of those things. So they do know the impact that you know these outfits you know, what athletes are required to wear? They do have an impact. They do know the impact because, you know, you have to make space for branding and marketing and logos and all those things.


FRAN: So Oge you mentioned at the start there that there was the discrepancy between the shorts that were too short in running and the shorts that were too long in the hand volleyball. Do you think that this kind of from the outside arbitrary ruling is more obvious, because in the Olympics you get all of these sports on at the same time? So you're starting to see things as outsiders?


OGE: Yeah, I think because you know the Olympics is such a big thing. I think because it's so global, it has that more, that more of a visibility. So I think that's why there's more kind of attention around it now. But I also think that because it mostly happens with women. So I think that's another thing that I think people have started to pick up on. That when it does come to things, you know, thinking about outfits and stuff, it's always centred around, you know, women. So when we think years ago about I think it was Serena Williams, you know she got called out for wearing a catsuit or something like that. I think that's what it was, and there was a lot of controversy, not about how she played or even if she won but what she was wearing. And I think it's a consistent theme that we see, especially in sporting activities.


FRAN: I will ask you as well okay with the oh, I can open this up to everyone, but I would be interested to hear your opinion on it as we mentioned in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago there. This is not the first clothing controversy in the Olympics this year. We've already had issues with the Soul Cap which wasn't allowed, and then it was allowed. Can you just tell us a little bit more for listeners about what the Soul Cap was and what the issues were there.


OGE: So Soul Cap is a British owned brand that wanted to get FINA certification to be allowed for their swimming caps to accommodate women with afro hair. Different types of hair, especially for black swimmers. And they were denied because they said that I don't know. I actually don't know the reason for it, but they rejected the caps for natural hair. Basically I think the the chair of the Black Swimming Association said that it will affect younger swimmers up and coming who might want to consider taking up elite swimming. So just as Eden was saying earlier that, you know, and what Neil was saying that this has a knock on effect, and I remember growing up, I always used to think these women who are these swimming caps for because they didn't fit, they didn't fit my head or, you know, they didn't accommodate my hair styles. So it just again it makes you feel as though these sports aren't for you because the things that you feel you need to buy or you need to have in order to access it are just not representative of your lived experience. And so, you know, I think their reasoning was that it didn't, the caps didn't fit the natural groove of the head or something like that. And for me, that just sounds insane. Especially, you know, if they're saying that they want to be more inclusive. But again, this is how you exclude people by not taking into consideration that people have different lived experiences.


FRAN: Yeah, And we already said that this kind of thing does trickle down. And Eden, you pointed out to me that even though this was a ruling specifically for the Olympics in this case, the group that makes that ruling, it also leads into open water swimming.


EDEN: Yeah, so FINA are sort of the international body for swimming competitions so any triathlons, Iron Mans, that kind of thing, they all have to abide by the FINA rules and regulations when hosting those water events. So everything you wear has to then be FINA approved as well, although the open water is slightly different to pool swimming. You touched on it about the ruling. The main ruling was that it didn't fit the form of the head and also that FINA. didn't see the need for it because it's not been needed before. So that was the final ruling ‘Well, we haven't needed it before, so we don't see the need in the future’. And for me, there's two things to that. One, any swimmers that do have, like, a black background or have long hair to compete have cut it. So they've made a decision at some point in their life, whether it was really small and it was not significant to them, they made that decision that I'm going to cut my hair and that can go across all races. But obviously this cap has specifically been designed for the black community. It has gained a lot of momentum behind Soul Cap, which is great for Soul Cap. But it also gives the other big players within the swim space to say, actually, we need to do something about this and maybe we need to start manufacturing those products as well. And for me it's just sad, because all I can see is a big manufacturer coming out with a hat just like this, being able to push the hat through at the same time as a Soul Cap going through. And suddenly it's about the big brand creating this all inclusive hat rather than the founders of Soul Cap coming through and creating a great brand and just saying ‘Yeah, you can wear it all the way through from when you're learning to swim’.


NEIL: Much like we were talking about with uniforms, and I think that if you're going to rule something out in sport it’s usually that it can give an unfair advantage. And how the soul cap could give someone an unfair advantage is mind boggling. It wouldn't because actually, if anything, it would give you a disadvantage because it would make you lift in line in the water. So if someone is wanting to wear that kind of cap and they feel like, well, I can compensate for the disadvantage that it gives me and I can still be a competitive swimmer or whatever for them to rule it out with again, no justification or no justification that actually directly relates to performance is just crazy. I can't understand having worked in sport for over 10 years, you know, it really has to be based on an advantage or a disadvantage. Without that, it actually is irrelevant. And in my opinion, I would say it comes across pretty irrelevant to why they would rule it out.


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FRAN: So after the Olympics, we have the Paralympics as well, and even though it hasn't started yet, there's already controversy coming around about that. Neil, did you want to talk a little bit about one of the ones you brought me.


NEIL: Yeah. One of the stories that has sort of come out recently in the lead up to the Paralympics is that of Becky Meyers. Becky Meyers is a US Paralympic gold medalist swimmer. Becky is deaf and blind and has actually withdrawn from the event and will not be going to Tokyo to take part because she's being denied the opportunity to take her personal assistant with her. This has been because of covid restrictions. Understandably, Becky feels this is unfair, as having the assistant is essential for her to be able to take part, not just at her event, but also to help her around the village so she can make sure she is dealing with the additional challenges that she faces. These would be things like not being able to get around safely. It's a new environment, and that, obviously, for someone who's deaf and blind, can be extremely challenging and tricky, but also to help her get adequate nutrition in the village while she's there. These are a lot of things that we don't think about and don't see the bigger picture that you know athletes can face and the challenges they can come across. And if you think about it, you know, that would then have a knock on effect on Becky's mental health if she was there and not being able to feed herself properly and feeling quite anxious, trying to get around that could, of course, affect her ability to take part in the event and compromise her performance. So as much as you know, the covid restrictions, so it’s a very tricky situation, I would say, because the reason she's not being allowed to take her assistant is for covid restrictions. So you can see why, why? That might be the case. But on the other hand, she can't take part in this enormous, really important event because of this. So I find this one a very tricky story because I see both sides of what's going on there. I can see why Becky is upset. Obviously, Covid is causing a lot of problems for all of us.


EDEN: She said something great in a particular article that I was reading up about and she was saying that this is the biggest Paralympic Games so far. There's going to be a lot more. There's already a lot more brand attention. There's a lot more media attention this year, and everyone is celebrating the adversity that everyone's overcome. But some of those barriers are actually being brought in by the Paralympic Committee themselves. And it just goes to show that actually, when we're looking at designing an Olympic Village, we're designing an Olympic Village, not a Paralympic village. The reason they couldn't have a personal care assistant was because there was nowhere for them to stay on site safely within the athletes village, and that's because the athletes village hasn't been designed to have that. When they decided to go ahead with the Olympics, they didn't think actually, we need to make this suitable. We need to think ‘Look at what we're doing’. They just they just ploughed ahead with it. Unfortunately, that's put Becky in a very difficult position once he's had to pull out after five years of training, which can't be an easy thing at all


OGE: And I think, yeah, I completely agree. And I think what's really hard is we see this time and time again that, you know, it's always down to the person or the marginalised group who suffers the most because, you know, things aren't well thought-out, or all things aren't accommodating for people. If they had designed a Paralympic park just at the first onset, then you know we wouldn't have to deal with this. I think it's about how do you design these things with the most impacted in mind? And we don't think about that.


NEIL: Yeah, I think accessibility can often come across as an afterthought, as opposed to at the inception, and it needs to be at the beginning, doesn't it? We need to make sure that you know if something is accessible for for those with a disability or the EU's future is accessible for everyone, then.


FRAN: So we've had a quite swim heavy first half of this and we are going to have a little bit more talk about water and water safety that's gonna come up after a quick detour to hear about sponsorship.


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FRAN: So let's move on to talk about something else that has been in the news a lot over the past few weeks, and that is water safety. So, unfortunately, we've heard that in the past couple of weeks, at least 31 people have died in water across the UK. So this actually comes on the back of drowning prevention week, which was last month. And that is run every year by the Royal Life Saving Society. And there's some really interesting facts that I learned from that week that I would really like to talk about. In fact, one of them was that over 80% of people who drown accidentally are male, and that is a massive statistic that is so disproportionate. Eden, I think you have a bit more information on that one.


EDEN: Yeah, so it tends to be made up of the people that are around the water. So some of those numbers are fishermen much more likely to be male, working in a seafaring capacity and then therefore much more likely to end up in a water in poor conditions over winter. And then in the summer, it flips towards your young adolescent teenagers who are potentially going into the river to cool down. So is there intention whether they're jumping off a bridge, whether jumping off a bank or whether just going for a swim without that cold water shock can get them very quickly. It's such a drop in temperature, especially when the water, when the air gets hot, the water doesn't necessarily rise with it. And I think it's only going to get worse with the rise of outdoor swimming because they see their parents out swimming regularly. And they think it will be fine just to jump straight in because their parents swim all through winter. But they don't have that acclimatisation. Their body is not used to the water, and they're not used to having that cold shock.


FRAN: As a non swimmer, these kind of statistics do make me feel a little bit nervous. And that's something which I think a lot of people can relate to. There are many aspects about water safety, which, some of them are known, some of them I don't know. Eden, as our resident swimmer, I'd love to ask you, do you have anything that you would specifically say to people who are going out and perhaps getting into wild swimming or getting into just cooling off in the summer a little bit more? When we have the massively high temperatures these days, what kind of things do we have to be aware of when we're in and around the water?


EDEN: Yeah, of course. So I think that's two different things that you mentioned, which is great. One is, if you're using the water just to cool off, you need to be very careful. My recommendation is that you head to life guarded beaches. There's also manmade, inland life guarded beaches, which are run by some local councils. Aqua parks. They're sort of popping up around the country, which is a great way to get used to that cold water shock and just cool down. You know, you're going to be safe if something goes wrong. You should have a much higher chance of surviving anything having those extra bodies around you. If you're going swimming and that is your intention, try and pick a popular spot. Try and pick places you know that other people already swim, and there's loads of forums online that you can find that. And then my last tip is, don't jump in just wherever you're going. Even if it's a drop down into the water, lower your body gently into it. And don't let go of that side until you've got your breath until you've got control of that because the cold water shock, the first thing you do is a massive inhale of breath. So if you're used to the water and you know that's what's going to happen, it's fine because you can override that before you even got into the body of water. But if you're not expecting it or even if you're expecting it, but you don't know what it feels like, it's very dangerous because you can easily take on water at that point. And that's 90% of the way to drowning.


NEIL: I think that maybe even ties in a little bit as well with the decline in swimming, lessons are happening for children and in schools and stuff like that. I know that that doesn't seem to be happening as much. I've been a swimming teacher for 10 years, and I noticed that, you know, kids awareness of water safety is a lot lower because there doesn't seem to be - It used to be that, you know, when you were at primary school, you would get a block of lessons. I certainly know that was the case in Scotland. I'm not I'm not sure how is it in other parts of the UK, but that seems to have been declining quite a lot in the last few years. And I wonder if that perhaps relates to some of the as you were saying, you know, in the deaths that are adolescents that are going to to water to cool down and are really just unaware of the risks that are there. So I think That certainly brings about an argument of how important it is in education to to make sure that we're not just educating children to what's happening in the classroom and things like that, but also be prepared for being outside to be in these environments. That stuff is really, really important.


EDEN: Yeah, and I think it's there's a lot, a lot of great volunteer organisations that want to teach people how to swim, but it costs money. Everyone's got time and it needs to be compensated for, especially with a lot of families struggling at the moment, whether they've lost their income through covid or life’s more expensive now because of covid, they can't necessarily run those sessions.


OGE: It's so important because I was having a conversation today with my cousins and we kind of listed, you know, five kind of life skills that you should have and swimming was one of them, and I think it's so important to give children that accessibility to be able to swim. So when I was growing up we had the kind of block primary school sessions that you have. But then after that, it was just we were left in the wind. And I really do regret not learning how to swim when I was younger, because it is such a life skill that I think everyone should have the access or accessibility to be able to have.


FRAN: Do you feel comfortable in the water now? Do you go swimming at all? Or is that something that you do avoid?


OGE: I don't go swimming, but funny story. I love to go scuba diving. Well, I've been scuba diving and snorkelling on holiday, but I just don't know how to swim. And there's a part of me that fears going into the water because I'm like, I don't know what to do, and it's just this strong force that can take me out at any minute. So it's like I avoid just going in. Even when we had a BGH weekender and we did paddle boarding and kayaking, and I just felt so cautious of wanting to stand on the paddleboard just in case I fell in, and I just didn't know what to do with myself. So I do have that kind of fear of drowning.


NEIL: So once you've had a once, you've had a couple of lessons. You realise it's actually much easier to swim than it is to sink. So you're It's actually really hard to make yourself sink because you need that way. So when you're scuba diving your bodies full of air, so to float, So don't don't realise that it's actually easier to spend than it is to sink. Think of it like that.


FRAN: I am not a confident swimmer at all, but I did go swimming last week because I was down by the beach for the first time in a while and I went swimming in the sea, which was very, very exciting for me. And I was on a life guarded beach, you'll be glad to know Eden, so I felt very safe. But I did read before I went away about the Southern Water dumping sewage into the oceans, and I learned that this is something which is quite common, isn't it, Eden?


EDEN: Yeah, absolutely. So Southern Water have just been fined £90 million for deliberately polluting sewage into the sea between 2010 and 2015. It's sort of the first time a water company has been fined such a large amount for that practise. But it is a very common practise, whether it's into the seas or whether it's into rivers around the UK. We use these or we, I certainly don't use them. The water companies use these storm drains and regulations so they fill up effectively big tanks full of sewage when the weather is absolutely fine, because they know as soon as it storms, they will be able to discharge that directly into a body of water at no penalty to them. The water companies do get brought up on this quite a lot because they have to publish how and when they discharge. But the fine is much less than the cost of actually treating the water, so they just continue to do it. It's been going on for years and years. Save Our Seas is a great campaign run by Surfers Against Sewage at the moment, which do inland and also river water - sorry - no, they do river and seas and they help notify and also petition against the company is doing it.


OGE: It just all sounds maniacal. Deliberately polluting seas.


NEIL: It’s all a bit Doctor Evil


OGE: Yes, someone goes in the middle of the night when there's been a big storm and just pours out the sewage.


EDEN: These tanks just line up directly. So they've just got a pipe that goes out and it's just a gate. So as soon as there's heavy rain they are allowed to discharge because there's risk of the local sewers overflowing and spilling out onto the streets and spilling out to people's homes. So that's why they're allowed to do it. But they continue to do it for 2 to 3 days something.


NEIL: Is there an alternative method of funding to dispose of sewage. I'm guessing because obviously they don't want to wait just until the storm weather, you know, is there another way that they do it, that they can process to it?


EDEN: Yeah, so it needs, it needs more infrastructure. That's why Southern Water have been fined because they would deliberately not repairing their infrastructure and their processing plants to save money because they knew they could still store that, But there needs to be monitoring on when they're collecting that sewage into the tanks that should be monitored to only be allowed when there's a big storm, because that can be reversed. It could be sent back to the treatment facility afterwards, but they're happy just to fill it. As soon as the storm stopped, shut the gates out to sea or out to the river and then fill it within the first two days. And it might be good weather for 30 days at that point in the summer. So just to collect that sewage so it's not it's not at the percentage of water to surge that you would expect it to be because it's heavy rain, because they've just just collected something for so long. It's all just solid.


NEIL: Yummy.


EDEN: I'm not looking forward to dinner anymore. No, neither am I!


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FRAN: So, talking about swimming in the sea, there might now be some people that want to stay on the beach and to finish off today, I'm going to come to you, Neil, because you have a nice story for us about beach access and making beaches more accessible.


NEIL: I do indeed. I have read a few articles, actually, about a different parts of the UK Beach wheelchairs are becoming more available for people to rent so that they can get down onto the beach, and some people might not actually realise. But the thing with the problem with wheelchairs and sand is they really don't get on very well. So the front casters of a wheelchair tend to dig into anything kind of soft, and the main wheels that you would push get no purchase on sand, especially, very soft, loose sand. So beaches for wheelchair users and people with mobility issues can be really quite tricky. And really very difficult to get access to, but it's lovely to see that, for example, in the Pembrokeshire coast, 14 beach chairs have been funded by the Welsh government and the National Park down there to help disabled people get onto the beach. Another article, which was fantastic to read about, was a gentleman called Mike Grey, who's down at Fleetwood Beach in Lancashire, which is just up from Blackpool and he got together with some local organisations and they are also providing a beach wheelchairs for hire. So people with a disability can get onto the beach and for some people, it is the first time in their lives that have been able to get onto the beach, which is really great. So this is a great example of people recognising how some of these fantastic places in nature are not just accessible for some people with disabilities. So these kind of opportunities and availability of equipment are starting to pop up more and more, which is great to see and actually going to what he didn't has been saying about some of the wild swimming. This actually also opens up some opportunities for wild swimming for people with disabilities as well. I sometimes do well swimming, not an awful lot of it, but we have tried a few times and actually one of the things I've found it can be a bit tricky is getting access to the water. So, hopefully with this abundance of beach wheelchairs popping up, we'll see more people with a disability wanting to get to the water's edge and getting the opportunity to get into the water and participate with other wild swimmers.


FRAN: So one thing I really liked about this story or these two stories is the fact that you had one of them where there was an individual that noticed that this was a problem and has gone out of his way to make a change there. But you have the other one where it is the local council, and it is the national parks that are putting the money into these kind of projects. So how important is that Neil for making national parks in these places accessible? Having that backing from the actual organisations.


NEIL: Getting the backing from bigger organisations is really important because it means that these projects tend to or should hopefully last. You know stand the test of time. It's great to see individuals pop up and and come up with, you know, funds and finding the funds for these kinds of pieces of equipment. But what often happens is if they don't have the money to then market it, if they don't have the money to get the get it out there for people to know that this equipment exists, then they maybe get used one summer, maybe a couple of years, and then they get put away in the storage and they get forgotten about - staff changes and things like that, and people don't know how to maintain them. The money is not there to have them maintained and you know, saltwater and sand, for example, with beach wheelchairs, you know it can take its toll pretty quickly on equipment. When you have bigger governing bodies, national parks, local authorities, these kind of organisations putting money in it hopefully gives these projects the opportunity to sort of last longer, to be well maintained and to tap into the network and resources that they have for getting that information out to the right people. So, yeah, it's great to see both, but as you say Fran, you know, actually, when you can get local councils and governing bodies on board, you have the chance to make change for longer, which is what we really want to see.


FRAN: Eden. Oge. Did you have much of an idea about the access difficulties for people in wheelchairs on beaches before Neil brought that to us?


EDEN: Yeah, I've seen bits just through being in the sort of open water community. I've seen people use these wheelchairs to get into the sea with a friend so that's been great, but I'd assume that they've been privately funded rather than publicly. I think what's great about these two schemes in particular is that although they are there for hire and you can book them online for one of them, you just just get a voucher or token. They're completely free access for those people that need them. And that's great that the Council and the Rotary Club, I think, was funding the second one you were getting set. yes, this will cost us money, and we will not gain any money back from this. Hopefully people will spend £2 and we'll get 200 quid a week kind of thing. It's just flat out. This will cost us money. But that is our responsibility. And I think it's really important that councils are accepting responsibility, especially when they're in a tourism driven area.


OGE: I hadn't read this story beforehand. And to my ignorance, I didn't know, but yeah, I just echo what both Eden and Neil have said. I think it's a really great kind of initiative that it would be taken on by kind of, the local council and, you know, substantial bodies because it does show the seriousness of how they do want to make things more accessible to people and providing the means to do that. I just think it's just a great example of putting your money where your mouth is, and it doesn't have to be that complicated or that that big of a deal, but it just makes such an impact for people to be able to, as Neil was saying, go to the beach for the first time. And I think that's amazing.


FRAN: Yeah, and a lovely story to end on.


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FRAN: Those are our main stories for today. But no news show would be complete without an ‘in other news’ segment.


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One of our future panelists Frit Tam has finished his Rollerblade and cycle down England. Frit was doing glide for pride to share stories of LGBTQ+ stories across the country.


Cal Major has finished her stand up paddleboard around the entire coast of Scotland, and a sheep eating plant has been grown in Surrey. You've always got to have a random one to finish on.


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If you'd like to hear more about those stories, please sign up to our newsletter, which includes the news stories we could not fit into the show. We would also like to hear your thoughts and views on the stories shared today, and you can email us at ontheoutsidepod@gmail.com. That's also where you can send us stories you think we should talk about and your own news.


FRAN: Now on the outside is about starting conversations with a view to changing things that need changing. And so in every episode we are going to end with a literal call to action from our panellists. One thing you, as listeners can do to support us and help change the narratives discussed. So, Eden. What is your call to action?


EDEN: So my call to action is to encourage you to engage with the Paralympics. If there's something so far that you've really enjoyed in the Olympics, put a note in your diary for when the Paralympic version of that is and just see the differences in, just see the differences in what those athletes have to go through to compete in the Paralympic Games.


FRAN: Neil.


NEIL: My call to action would be for swimming communities and groups to make contact with at least maybe one organisation that is providing equipment to help people with disabilities and mobility issues to get onto beaches and into bodies of water. And also maybe to identify one accessible point where swimmers with a disability could gain access to the water where your group swim so that they can take part and and be included and take part in the fun.


FRAN: Oge.


OGE: I would say my call to action is if you're like me and you don't know how to swim to do one thing that you can to invest in learning how to swim or if you do know how to swim, is there someone in your life that doesn't know that you can invest in.


FRAN: Beautiful. and mine is going to be very similar each episode? If you like today's episode, please support us by sharing this podcast with a friend you think would like it. Share it on social media. Stick it on the Bluetooth on your next road trip. However you like to share these things, please do so it all really helps. The full show notes for this episode, including links to the articles we spoke about, are all available on our website ontheoutsidepodcast.co.uk. Our music is Bassbeats on the Outside is produced by myself. Editing and transcript by Jack O’Driscoll and I would like to give a special thanks in this first episode to a few people who have helped get this out. We have helped get this first episode to where it is. Sarah Myles from Rise and Shine, Imriel Morgan at Content is Queen, Laura Blake, Adam Richardson at Pod Bible


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and our Patreon support crew who are Wild for Scotland and Charlie's supply Shop, and, of course, thank you all for listening.


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