Amira Patel is empowering Muslim women to enjoy the great outdoors through her online community.
During lockdown Amira, 29, founded The Wanderlust Women – an online community to help and encourage Muslim women to enjoy the countryside.
Amira, originally from Bolton, said: “I always used to think, ‘where do I belong?’ I thought that home had to be a specific location – but now I realise that home is where you feel the most alive.
“The outdoors is now my office. It’s been a space for me to heal, to connect with myself, with God, and connect with everything around me.
“I’m very passionate about this project. I want more representation of Muslim women outdoors. I wanted to give them the confidence to go out and experience it for themselves so I started blogging about my journey. Sometimes we feel like there are barriers – but the key is how we challenge them.”
Amira is backing the formation of the new South Pennines Park – an independent park landscape covering 460 square miles of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester. It is home to 660,000 people who live in the park —twice as many as the 10 English National Parks put together and more than 8 million people have access to the park within 30 minutes.
These Wanderlust Women have started to explore their own surroundings thanks to the confidence gained from the movement. What started as a small group of 30 people has extended to a community of over 5,000 people around the world.
Amira said: “Knowing the impact the group has had really makes me happy. I want everyone to experience the joy I feel.”
As well as providing a support network for Muslim women, The Wanderlust Women also run activities like learning about the environment and the countryside, educational trips, as well as teaching skills such as navigation and the basics – like what to wear and how to pack for a day adventuring.
Amira said: “Nature can have a huge impact on our mental and physical health – you just need to take that little step outside your comfort zone When you’re outdoors you can take in the fresh air, listen to the sounds around you, look at all the different colours, and take it all in. It’s somewhere you can switch off your thoughts for a minute.
“The outdoors is for everyone. The South Pennines Park area, particularly Rivington, Winter Hill and the Belmont area, is where my journey began. It will always have a place in my heart.”