GREATER access to outdoor activities – such as mountaineering – is to be given to the deaf and people from minority groups across Bradford district and Craven.

Skilled experts will provide support to enable people to take part in pursuits.

The initiative is being launched after North of England Activities and Training (NEAT) successfully bid for just under £25,000 from NHS Charities Together.

The bid was supported by health and care partnership, Act as One.

Funding will help expand a current women’s mountaineering group and establish one for men, with support – through British Sign Language interpreters – for those who are deaf.

There will also be part-funding for a new wheelchair-accessible minibus.

And an annual training programme will be established that includes mental health awareness, minibus driver training and outdoor leadership – building on the NHS community walk leader role.

Chris Johnson, chair of NEAT, said: “The NHS Charities Together funding is a fantastic opportunity to increase the reach of strenuous outdoor exercise and ecotherapy.

“This will reach various minority groups which need it most, including people who are deaf. We are delighted that we will be able to increase training provision for new outdoor leaders and overcome transport barriers.”

Michelle Turner, director of quality and nursing at NHS Bradford District and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group and representative for the Act as One healthy hearts programme, said: “Evidence shows that people from ethnically diverse communities, as well as those with disabilities, are less likely to take part in outdoor activities.

“This means that they have less access to the strenuous exercise involved in hill walking and climbing, which could improve their overall health.

“This funding will help broaden access to a wider group of people so that they can enjoy the wonderful scenery we have in this country and more importantly get an opportunity to improve their physical and mental health.”

NEAT was established in 2004 to support out-of-school activities for young people aged 11 to 25, and training for adult leaders.

Most of the charity’s activities have been run in West Yorkshire and Bradford district in particular, with a diverse range of young people.

Among those who have benefited is Misbah Ahmed.

She said: “A friend told me about one of the hiking groups led by Chris. I got along with Chris straightaway – he is doing so much for women to get into hiking. I was impressed with the set-up and from then decided I would continuously go to these hiking groups.”