‘I have been educating myself about the positive, inclusive, healing and restorative beliefs of the Black Lives Matter Global Movement. As a team, we have been listening carefully too. We want to learn from those speaking out about the reality of racial inequality, injustice and discrimination. As a small and practical organisation, we generally avoid conspicuous public pronouncements. On this issue, we feel collective responsibility. We support Black Lives Matter.
British Exploring Society is part of an intergenerational community. We believe that anyone of any age, background and ethnicity can, if given the opportunity, move forward, learn and then help others make society better. It is important to us to foster and celebrate empathy, the ability to listen, to learn, to change and to live with difference.
We work hard to try and provide the skills and confidence to enable young people to go on to successful adult lives. We want to help diverse groups of young people to appreciate their own strengths and skills – and, crucially, be able to celebrate those of the young people around them whose experience of life is likely to be different from theirs. Our greatest wish is for our Young Explorers to go on to share those restorative skills. Some may go further – taking on stand-out community roles and responsibilities in adulthood.
One such Explorer, Marvin Rees, first joined us in 1990 in Svalbard. In 2016 he became the Mayor of Bristol and Europe’s first directly elected Mayor of African heritage. We were very proud when he agreed to re-join us as our President last year. He would be clear though, that adventurous outdoors activities when he joined us were largely the domain of privileged white young people. Our organisation has evolved since then – and he has been thrilled to see how much. But for many, the barriers are still too great. We know how important our commitment to further change is if we are to make sure we genuinely overcome inequality in our work. For that, we will need to continue to educate ourselves and to work hard to shift the organisation forward. We will continue to hold ourselves to account on our practical success in making what we do genuinely accessible, inclusive and effective. We are grateful for the support of our partners in helping us improve, too.
Young Explorers at British Exploring Society already defy dated clichés about the ‘kind of people’ who explore. As these young people join our community and move on from us into adult life, they will help us in the process of change, and make the future better for us all. It is in this contribution, in the face of the challenges the World faces today, that we are coming to understand a new significance to the work of British Exploring Society.’