Open Country began in 1990 as a temporary project managed by: The Countryside Commission, Harrogate Borough Council, North Yorkshire Social Services, Harrogate Health Authority and the Fieldfare Trust and funded by Powergen, Yorkshire Field Studies Trust and Mencap. Since then Open Country has developed into a small charity with huge aims! On an average week we run up to fifteen countryside activities, catering for a range of abilities. Over the years we have been recognised by many awards including the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2006 and the Duke of York’s Community Initiative in 2008 and again in 2014.
Nearly 30 Years of Experience
Open Country has nearly 30 years of experience in successfully organising and leading countryside activities for people with disabilities. On the back of this experience, it is able to offer high-quality information, training and advice to organisations wanting to provide better access to their countryside sites and events as well as individuals and their families wishing to access the countryside independently.
Access For All
We have produced a range of information to encourage access for all in the countryside. We offer ‘Countryside Directories for People with Disabilities’ covering the whole of Yorkshire as well as County Durham, Lancashire and Teesside. We have also produced four ‘Breakfree Packs’ for the Harrogate, Nidderdale and Wharfedale areas. These packs contain cards with walk descriptions and maps created with wheelchair users in mind.
We have a board of nine trustees who are responsible to the community, The Charity Commission and Companies House. Between them they have a wide range of experience, including finance, business and marketing.
The Advisory Group
The Advisory Group comprises service user representatives from each activity group, volunteers, trustees, staff and other interested parties. The group meets three times a year and provides a chance for everyone to feedback on activities we have run in the past, as well as helping decide which direction we should be going in. We have groups in Harrogate and Wakefield.
Open Country is delighted to have three high-profile patrons, Sir Gary Verity, Lord Willis of Knaresborough & Harrogate and Air Commodore Simon Bostock. Paralympian David Stone MBE is our Cycling Ambassador. Their input is invaluable in all aspects of Open Country’s work.
We are keen to expand into other areas and have recently set up a brand new project in Wakefield.
46 East Parade