[Alex] Hi I’m Alex Staniforth. I’m an adventurer, a motivational speaker, author and the founder of Mind Over Mountains which is a charity to restore mental health through outdoor experiences.

[Music plays]

[Video footage of Alex climbing in the woods]

[Alex] Being outside in nature, being able to challenge myself against the elements has been the most powerful tool for confronting my challenges and I think mental ill health has been probably one of the biggest mountains I’ve had to climb as a young person at 26 and ever since then I’ve never really followed the conventional path doing ridiculous outdoor endurance challenges to actually inspire people to tackle their Everests in life and now on a mission really to inspire people to achieve extraordinary things and to never settle for Base Camp.

Through Mind Over Mountains, we’re a fairly new charity and we’re still small but growing vast and we’ve been blown away by the impact that we’ve had so far and and there’s so many stories I could share but I think it’s quite transformational what taking people into a new environment with professional support can do, giving them that safe space to walk and talk.

[Video footage of Mind Over Mountains hikes and events]

[Alex] I think when you’re out in nature, talking about your struggles, opening up, is so much easier than it is perhaps face-to-face or you know in a board room or on a phone call and we find that people really feel able to show that they’re struggling you know to speak to people and to really work out what’s going on for them. It’s often the hardest part is taking that first step but we’ve found that people have come on our events they’ve been shaking with fear, maybe it’s taken them a couple of goes to actually attend because the anxiety is has stopped them and people that maybe suffer with being in groups, maybe struggle with social anxiety, people that have suffered bereavements they’re going through, divorces, maybe trauma, they’ve had a major health problem, maybe they have a long-term health problem that really affects their ability to get out in nature or maybe people that already enjoy being active but they’ve lost access so they’ve lost the opportunities. It’s just about creating that spark for them to really rediscover and reconnect with themselves and with the outdoors.

On one of our events in the Sugar Loaf mountain in Wales, we watched people walking away exchanging numbers and they’ve since organized their own walks and kayaking trips to raise money for us and to give something back and people that have now come away from you know from the charity walks and actually they’ve started to train as mountain leaders, as therapists themselves, they’ve made major life changes that they’ve realized were unhealthy for them and I think just seeing and hearing the words of people – sometimes that they said that they’ve literally nearly been close to tears they’ve been out of their comfort zone and just to see them literally in kind of tears of joy by the end of the weekend just by proving themselves wrong by realizing what they needed to do for themselves and they just needed a little bit of help taking that step.

[Photos of groups of smiling people at Mind Over Mountains events]

[Alex] Some of them said that normally they are ‘I can’t people’ – people that would never even try these things and they said they’ve come away beaming with joy and now as ‘I can’ people and they’ve kept booking on more walks, they’ve bought themselves holidays abroad walking, climbing and booked themselves on courses and people saying how invigorated they feel at the end of the day when they send us an email how much of a difference we’ve made just seeing that for us makes it so worthwhile.