2193. Andrew Higson
Andrew Higson, from Huddersfield, set up ‘Blackdog Outdoors’ to support people with poor mental health through free outdoor activities.
Andrew has a high-pressure job that, in the early stages of his career, often left him feeling isolated and stressed, which he overcame by rediscovering a love for mountaineering. He founded the charity in 2018 to support others in accessing the outdoors for their mental wellbeing. The organisation started as a central information point, but has since expanded, gaining charitable status in 2020. The activities provide a safe, supportive and non-judgemental environment and include pursuits such as hill-walking, climbing and paddle boarding, to help bring people together, while providing the opportunity to develop new skills and help improve participants’ mental health and wellbeing.
There is no requirement to have a formal diagnosis to attend any of the sessions, which are run entirely by volunteers who are both trained mental health first aiders and qualified outdoor professionals. ‘Blackdog Outdoors’ delivers over 100, free to attend, outdoor events across the UK a year.
“We are incredibly humbled that the Prime Minister has recognised the value of our work at ‘Blackdog Outdoors’. I’m proud to receive this award on behalf of the entire team, particularly those behind the scenes, who work so hard to ensure that our activities continue to support those affected by poor mental health.”
Find out more about ‘Blackdog Outdoors’