Access to Nature is a scheme run by Natural England and funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The programme closed to new applications in May 2010, with the final main grant awards being made in December 2010. Support to projects will cease in March 2014, with all administration concluded by September 2014.
Access to Nature aims to encourage more people to enjoy the outdoors, particularly those who face social exclusion or those that currently have little or no contact with the natural environment - perhaps because they lack the confidence to get out and enjoy natural places or have few opportunities to do so.
Natural England works on behalf of a consortium of eleven other major environmental organisations and distributes around £30 million Lottery funding under the scheme, which has been developed to encourage more people to enjoy the outdoors, particularly those with little or no previous contact with the natural environment.
By 2014 we want 1.7 million people - in urban, rural and coastal communities across England - to have benefited from this grant programme by giving them improved opportunities to experience and enjoy the natural environment and providing more opportunities to gain new skills.
Since it opened for applications in April 2008 Access to Nature has funded many excellent projects that are helping people all over England get greater access to the natural environment – including for example disability trampers being available across the South West; supporting black and minority ethnic (BME) communities to get more involved with national parks; as well as many projects which are providing a range of volunteering and educational opportunities for local communities and young people. A selection of our project stories illustrates the diversity of these schemes.
In March 2012, additional funding - known as Supporting Change and Supporting Impact - was made available for existing Access to Nature projects courtesy of the Big Lottery Fund. Opened on 7 March 2012, the application window has since closed. Successful applicants were able to use the funding to sustain the benefits of their project.
12 March 2013: The Birmingham Botanical Gardens welcomed Access to Nature projects, and the Access Grants team that supports them - for Making Links 3. This was the third annual event held to bring Access to Nature projects together.
March 2013: A paper has been produced on ‘Building Good Grant Programmes’.
It provides practical, grounded learning drawn from the reality of designing and delivering the Access to Nature programme. The paper identifies the learning that can inform Natural England, partner organisations and other grant makers, in the design, construction and operation of future grant programmes. It draws wider application from the lessons learnt from Access to Nature as a result of Icarus’ independent, external evaluation of the programme, creating a series of prompts which the designers of upcoming grant programmes can use to guide their work.
March 2013: Access to Nature Newsletter: (606kb) - Issue 3 has been published.