The aim of Salt & Light Retreat is to provide wholesome living for everybody. With services for all people, we have three branches of access: corporate; providing wellbeing in the workplace, helping build teams and bring down stress at work, public; retreat events for everybody to enjoy, and learn new tools for self-care, and community; our out-reach projects aimed to help those who might otherwise struggle to access wellbeing services.
Our latest project was born out of my own frustration at others' behaviour as lockdown began to lift in the summer. As people began to enjoy the beautiful coastline that we are so lucky to have on our doorstep here in Gower, there was a heartbreaking trail left behind. Our beaches always collect more litter in the summer, which is usually a result of tourists visiting the area. However, what was really upsetting about this time was that it was the result of local people enjoying the sea side, as lockdown restrictions still prevented us from travelling far from our own homes. It's hard enough to stomach that people visiting would litter, but to know that it was local people harming our environment broke my heart. I have been an avid beach cleaner for years, but I began to realise that this needed a different approach. It wasn't enough to go around cleaning up the mess that was left, we needed to tackle the root of the problem.
It's painful to write this, but there was a clear correlation between the numbers of young people gathering at our beaches and the masses of litter left behind. Of course, adults do litter too, but it was unmistakable that the majority of the problem was coming from our local young people.
Rather than sit around and moan about the problem, I worked on ideas, spoke to people and came up with a vision to confront the issue, with compassion instead of rage...and so, Salty Society was born.
This project brings young people of Swansea down to Gower to engage in fun outdoor based activities, outdoor education, and wellbeing practices, in the hopes that they will connect to nature, to themselves and to form a community of stewards of Gower. One day a week, for eight consecutive weeks, a group of fifteen teens from Swansea East will be provided with transport to Gower, to learn new skills, whilst developing an understanding and a passion for our beautiful surroundings. The young people will get to try outdoor activities that they may not usually have access to, such as foraging, SUPing and sea swimming, they'll have an outdoor educator inspiring them with interesting facts about Gower, it's nature and history, and engage in nature conservation work, alongside a weekly yoga practice and self-development session to help them grow as individuals, and as a team.
Of course, I think this project is going to be amazing, and so many people I've mentioned it to believe it will be too - but it cannot run for free. We are now raising funds to run this project, to cover the costs of transport, room hire, lunch, activities, equipment, contractors and staff. Funds will be raised through a crowdfunding source, Spacehive, which enables us to be be considered for a match funding grant from Swansea Council. We can only get that grant if we can show them that we have a good amount of support by Thursday 22nd October. I'll be backing the project myself, and some funds will be contributed from Salt & Light Retreat - as with any of our public or corporate events, the profit goes straight back into the business for our outreach projects. This is the biggest, and potentially most impactful outreach project that we have run, and we hope to use this pilot as an example of its positive effects, to run it again and again with bigger funding pots available once we've proved our worth.
If you feel passionate about protecting Gower, as well as the wider environment and breaking down barriers for young people in Swansea, or you've experienced the empowering effects of Salt & Light Retreat yourself, please back us with a pledge today.