Joseph Lee

Trips that transform lives

A social worker and trek leader tells Joseph Lee how expeditions in the wilderness can have a profound effect on disadvantaged students

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It wasn’t while out in the remote wilderness of Iceland that David Bartles-Smith realised how much the expedition there had transformed one autistic boy – it was in London, months later.

Bartles-Smith, a social worker and youth worker from Durham, is one of the leaders of a 16-day trek run by the British Exploring Society aimed at helping some of the most disadvantaged young people find routes back into education, training or work. The boy in question, who had a severe lack of confidence and reclusive habits, had been on the verge of dropping out after the first day’s training, before the ...

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