As part of our Youth Engagement Action Plan we asked individuals from underrepresented communities to write about nature projects they’re passionate about. Today we hear from Halima Hussein, the founder of Sole Sisters, an outdoor adventure group that allows a space for Scottish Muslim girls and women to get out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves in the outdoors.
From a young age, I enjoyed lowland walks with my family but I started getting into hiking when I joined a youth group called Yusuf Youth Initiative (YYI). This helped me gain experience and confidence in being in the outdoors.
As I grew older, I started going out further with friends and family. People would ask me about where I went hiking and how I discovered different walking spots. There were many great places to explore nearby that people simply weren’t aware of. There are many tools that can help you access the outdoors. I recommended Walkhighlands, a great website to find walks in your local area and further afield. The routes also include information about different difficulty grades and public reviews. When doing the navigation course with Mountaineering Scotland, we learnt of many useful weather forecast and navigation apps that are essential when planning walks. Also having basic map reading skills is important when going out.
If you haven’t had much experience exploring Scotland’s nature it can be daunting to explore new places and get out of your comfort zone. This is the main reason why I set up Sole Sisters – to create a safe space for likeminded girls to get together. Being from the same faith allows us to connect to the outdoors on a different wavelength where we are able to accommodate our walks around prayer times and connect with nature, not just physically, but also in a spiritual sense.
This is really important to me as in Scotland although there are amazing Muslim women out there hiking and sharing their adventures, there is still a lack of representation for young Muslim girls in the outdoors and a space where they can come together to go for an adventure.
Backbone Diversity CIC has been a great support in making sure I am safe and providing outdoor first aid and training courses to enhance my confidence when taking out groups.
Sole Sisters is still quite a new group and we are looking to build connections with different outdoor groups to help diversify Scotland’s outdoors. We want to help create representation of all faiths and cultures for a more inclusive natural space in Scotland. Collaborating with other outdoor groups will mean we can learn from each other and will allow people to be more open minded when being in the outdoors. The Scottish Government’s Scottish Biodiversity Strategy is now open for consultation and we encourage people from diverse backgrounds to respond to shape the future of Scotland’s biodiversity and access to its nature.