Bringing together partners across Purbeck

On the 29th of June, the National Trust and Prejudice Free Dorset ran a collaboration workshop looking at diversity and inclusion across the Purbeck Heaths landscape. The event brought together local community groups, landowners, land managers, parish councillors, and businesses – and for the first time created a space for EDI (equity, diversity & inclusion) conversations to be held in Purbeck.

The first workshop focussed on race equity, and began with presentations from keynote speaker Dr Anjana Khatwa, Tina Symington from Prejudice Free Dorset and Nathalie Sherring from Dorset Race Equality Council. For many, this shone a light on topics and themes that were previously not understood or even on people’s radar. It opened minds, brought up questions, and resulted in a buzz of energy for what we should be doing in Purbeck. Following the presentations, workshop activities took place to discuss the issues, the barriers, and the solutions for how Purbeck can be a place that truly welcomes all.

Together with the National Trust, the attendees of the EDI event form the Equity and Diversity Working Group of Purbeck. This group is part of the Sustainable Tourism Plan for the Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve. More information of the plan and the NNR can be found here.

The need to talk EDI in Purbeck has been growing for a long time. Purbeck is complex, a place where visitors have always been othered as grockles and where locals feel displaced from their own landscape. Tourists are blamed for the busy roads, over-filled bins, and the space and tranquillity of Purbeck disappearing. Underserved communities from BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole) see Purbeck as a predominantly ‘white landscape’ which does not provide a nature offer for them. Then on the flip side, there are local kids in Purbeck that have never spent a day at the beach because they cannot get there or do not feel like it is for them. The exclusions come from all angles, targeting all audiences, and so developing Purbeck as a place where everyone feels welcome is no easy feat.

“I think nature in Purbeck is cool and a good variety, but there is no access to places like Studland from Swanage if I wanted to go by myself.”

Year 10 student from Swanage School

It was time for action. With such complex problems that have been brewing for years, the solution could not come from one group or organisation. Partnerships and collaborative working were the only way to understand and act on the numerous themes at hand. Over the past few years, National Trust worked closely with Prejudice Free Dorset to understand the context and lend a hand. Meanwhile, the Sustainable Tourism Plan brought partners from across Purbeck together, where conversation of mixed audiences wanting different offers came up time and time again.

The result is like the beginning of a very long book. The Equity and Diversity Working Group in Purbeck is now established, we have the support and involvement of Prejudice Free Dorset and Dorset Race Equality Council, as well as underserved community groups from BCP. The space has been formed, the commitments from partners are flowing and a programme with training and events is in action. We may only be at the start of the story, but the book has certainly begun.

“My personal commitment now is to actively engage with diverse communities and nurture long lasting connection and collaborations”

Feedback from an attendee of the collaboration event

Note: Photographs taken by PFD members for the PFD website

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