We have recently finished a 12 week project involving young adults aged 18-25 from Middlesbrough. This project aimed to use the unique benefits of conservation volunteering in natural green spaces to improve the health and well-being of these individuals and allow them to gain valuable transferable skills in order to improve their chances of gaining long-term employment.
The project was comprised of 12 conservation sessions and 12 workshops totalling 24 sessions over 12 weeks. The conservation sessions allowed them to discover new green spaces in the form of our 15 nature reserves spread across the Tees Valley and then learn how to conserve these spaces to protect wildlife for future generations. The workshops allowed them to learn about heritage skills and alternative career paths, such as blacksmithing and dry stone walling. Towards the end of the project we allowed the participants to plan their own activities and fund raising event. Due to their planning, we now have a new area at Woodhill Meadows called ‘Bug Town’, aimed at getting school groups interested in creepy crawlies and understanding how to make their garden more wildlife friendly. P.S. We have had the first school group of the year to visit ‘Bug Town’ and they couldn’t wait to explore it!
For the fund raising event, they planned to repair our roundhouse at Woodhill meadows by collecting clay from Hardwick Dene, mixing it with soil and grass to daub the walls with. They then wanted to camp out in the roundhouse overnight, but what they didn’t know was we have stolen all of the food, drink and sleeping bags. To get these things back plus extra comforts they had to undergo the Wildlife Trust Staff’s three challenges, this involved mental challenges, physical challenges and finally a bush tucker trial! They passed with flying colours and celebrated with a camp fire BBQ. Even though we all had sleeping bags the temperature dropped to around -2 which made for a fairly chilly night. Despite the cold we were treat to sounds of Deer barking, Owls and lots of things scurrying around.
For completing the Wild Life Skills project the group achieved a John Muir Explorer award, which is a nationally recognised award, and our own internal volunteer awards.
This video played at the award ceremony and showcased all of the hard work the group put in over the 12 weeks.
Hope you enjoy!