Thursday, January 9, 2014

Once upon a time in the West



It’s two years since I broke the story in the outdoor media about the racist attack on Liverpool born outdoor instructor, Samuel Farmer and his family at St Agnes in Cornwall. The hate campaign reaching an appalling apotheosis with two arson attacks which destroyed a work shop and store which housed Sam’s outdoor equipment and his partner Carla’s art work. After being picked up on the UKC forums, the case quickly became something of a cause celebre for climbers who rallied around with financial donations and offers of equipment.

Several UK outdoor equipment manufacturers also donated gear and even top rock jock, Johnny Dawes dropped in on Sam to offer his support. When Sam’s Hope Project took its first outdoor group since the attack, I managed to get a piece on The Guardian’s Northerner Blog  which brought the story to the attention of those outside the outdoor community. Since then, I have kept in touch with Sam and I’ve been following developments down in Cornwall with a keen interest and fingers crossed for a happy outcome. His plans for a new structure on the site which would act as a store, gallery and horse/Llama trekking centre, has thus far been mired in the painfully slow planning process. However, with two youth groups already booked in for courses this coming summer, things are looking reasonably positive for the future of The Hope Project.

Factor in requests from certain national media organisations including journals to film companies wishing to follow up and expand on Sam’s story- including an interview in Cornwall’s West Briton newspaper next Thursday- then it could be that the further publicity could provide the impetus needed to speed up the snail like planning procedures.

On the conservation front, the Barton Moss Anti Fracking campaign have also been in touch with Sam this winter, offering mutual support and expertise in areas such as developing foraging, winter survival and first aid skills. The philosophy linking both The Hope Project’s work with inner city youngsters and Anti Fracking groups like Barton Moss being their shared commitment  in opposing exploitation. Either for profit or political expediency. With these values in mind and as a victim of racism, Sam sees his project extending beyond its original remit as a provider of outdoor education for socially excluded youngsters, and offering support and social justice for any individual or group who has suffered discrimination or exclusion based on their ethnicity.

Including indigenous Cornish born residents who are now a minority in their own region and largely excluded from the housing market by their lack of economic clout. Particularly compared to the wealthy incomers who have turned Cornish villages into ghost communities in winter by buying up properties as second homes.

This summer, Sam is planning a big get together for all his friends and supporters down at St Agnes, as a thank you for the generous support he has received from all over the country. If you want to help or donate to The Hope Project, follow the links below which includes a link to Sam and friends album on iTunes.
JA/Photos Sam Farmer

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