Eastenders Head to the Hills

Published on November 11, 2013

With little experience of  the countryside, four young guys from East London, of Bengali Muslim origin, recently ventured to the Peak District with the Eden Bow team.

They adjusted pretty quickly, despite struggling with the lack of phone reception (!) and threw themselves wholeheartedly into every task and challenge.  Simon from Eden Hattersley, joined the team, having run a number of outdoor activities in the Peak District and was mightily impressed with how hard the guys worked. The lads were blown away by the incredible views and thrilled with the gully scrambling and mountain biking in particular.

For the Eden team, this was a brilliant opportunity to strengthen and deepen relationships with them and to spend time away from the estate getting to know each other.

They were able to rent out a bunkhouse in the Peaks, which meant plenty of opportunities for quality time whether eating meals together, playing Xbox or watching a film. “For all of the lads, it was a real experience to be away from the estate,” said Ed Miles, Eden Bow team volunteer, “most of them had only ever spent time in Bow and in Bangladesh, with the exception of a school trip or two”.

Eden Bow youth retreat group pic“The lads couldn’t stop taking photos of the view which they thought was incredible,” continued Ed. “Despite not being sure what to expect from the activities by the end of the day they couldn’t stop sharing their photos and anecdotes from the day.”

The evenings were a great time for the team to really invest in their relationships with the four lads, and particularly it was a chance to chat to them about responsible drinking, drug taking as well as some discussions of faith and some of the struggles that the guys were dealing with.  There were also plenty of opportunities to chat to the guys as we did the activities and some really interesting conversations came out of the time together.

“Unfortunately we had a problem with some of the guys’ behaviour at one point and had to forfeit going rock climbing on the Sunday morning. However we were determined not to end on a bad note so we took the guys out for a walk in the Peaks near Sheffield and had lunch together. It helped us to finish the weekend with some really positive conversations and the guys were amazed again at the sheer beauty of the landscape and dragged us all up a hill to show off the view they had found!”

Since getting back from the residential, the team has seen a noticeable difference in relationships, not only with the four lads who they took away, but with the whole friendship group. “Many of the guys who didn’t come,” said Ed, “have expressed how gutted they are that they missed out after hearing stories and seeing the photos. We’re looking forward to the chance of taking a larger group away, in the future and further developing our relationships.”

“Weekends away like this are significant game changers for young people, because it is often the only chance they get to retreat and get a fresh perspective on their circumstances. The memories will stay with them for a long time and the connections with the teams make all the difference when we are working with them back home.”

To find out more about Eden Bow, take a look at the team page and contact Alex Hall direct on bow@eden-network.org