TV wilderness camp to help the unemployed is a rerun of 1930s idea
AN EXPERIMENT to help unemployed men get back into work by having them live in the Derbyshire wilderness has been hailed a success.
The scheme was echoing a movement which set up a camp at Shining Cliff, Ambergate, in the early-1930s.
Grith Fyrd, which means Peace Army in old English, was started by a group of socialist academics who wanted to help jobless men regain their motivation and confidence.
The camps were self-governing communities for young men of all classes. Two work camps, one at Godshill, in Hampshire, and the other at Shining Cliff, took in unemployed men to form the basis of a community living off the land.
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At the time, Britain was in the grip of the Great Depression, with wide-scale unemployment and soup kitchens.
With about two-and-a-half million people unemployed in Britain in 2013, many of them long-term, BBC East Midlands Today wanted to see if the same experiment would work with four men who have been out for work for more than a year.
The producers of the Inside Out programme decided to conduct their experiment in the original home of the 1930s scheme, in the medieval woods of Shining Cliff.
Three men from Mansfield and another from Nottingham were shown how to find food, set up a camp and cook out in the wild.
Paul Booker, who runs wilderness courses for the Lindley Educational Trust, showed the four the ways of the woods.
He said: "It's amazing how closely the current situation is to how it was back then.
"Being out of work for that length of time can be very damaging for people's self-respect. So getting people out of built-up areas and into these types of situation can make a real difference."
While the original camps were set up to be self-sufficient for years, the latest volunteers were in the wilderness for only 24 hours.
Paul said: "It was remarkable to see how much of a change it made in such a short amount of time.
"We do work with schoolchildren and youngsters and the teachers always say how much of a difference they see."
Following their night in the wilderness two of the men are now in work, one is a stay-at-home dad and another is still looking for work.
Paul said: "I really think these types of activities could be really good for people out of work.
"It's not for everyone but it shows how we need to think differently."
To see the film, watch Inside Out East Midlands on BBC1 tonight at 7.30pm.