Recently we teamed up sector magazine Inside Housing with our Brecon Support Hub to share how geocaching is helping people heal, smile and grow.
Pobl supports around 500 people per year in Powys, many from a support hub based at Brecon Foyer – itself a supported housing project offering homes for up to 7 young people at risk of homelessness. Located within the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park (BBNP), support hub staff linked up with national park staff some years ago to increase opportunities for healthy activities for the people they support.
One particular activity was particularly popular: geocaching. Part hike, part treasure hunt, geocaching is done with a Global Positioning System (GPS) device or smartphone. The benefits of using technology, applying problem-solving and engaging in physical activity are immediately obvious, but geocaching also offers participants access to a huge, hidden online community, providing a lifeline to many people who experience social and rural isolation. For many, connecting with others online or through the cache logs they find locally have led to the formation of real-life friendships. Even when they don’t, the sense of togetherness resulting from a shared interest and a global community is having positive effects, such as fostering an aspiration to travel or resulting in volunteering or work opportunities.
On a sunny Tuesday in March a team of people who use and deliver support at Brecon Hub set off with BBNP officers Billy and Ceri, reporter Kate and photographer Dave from Inside Housing on a geocaching adventure across the mountain trails. Inside Housing were keen to understand more about the activity and the benefits it was producing for people who receive support from Pobl.
Everyone was generous with their time and as we walked we heard stories of people’s highs and lows, of tragedy, resilience and achievement. The weather was just as generous – treating us, by turns, to sun, sleet, hail and even snow – all of which were met with smiles and laughter, even as hoods were raised, vainly, against the sting of hail on our faces.
Inside Housing’s feature will run in May 2017