ACCORDING to research released recently, positive lasting changes in the community have been made by people from different backgrounds and walks of life, brought together by the UK’s biggest ever wildflower campaign, Grow Wild.
Grow Wild’s achievements include a number of locally funded projects in Ceredigion, and projects such as these have seen the campaign land a place in the finals of this year’s National Lottery Awards, the vote for which ended on Wednesday (Jul 20).
Forest Research (the Forestry Commission’s research agency) conducted independent research online and in focus groups which shows the massive impact the project has made across the nation. Community co-operation has been boosted by the programme and scores of people have been inspired to take positive action for nature in their area. Three million people to date have been involved with Grow Wild, from inner cities to the Scottish Highlands, sowing enough seeds to cover 3.7 million square metres (enough to create a metre-wide path of wildflowers from Land’s End to John O’ Groats – almost four times). That even includes those who have sown flower seeds throughout Wales.
Semi-structured interviews and focus groups conducted by Forest Research at Grow Wild community projects and flagship sites revealed the opinions of 135 people. Many interviewees claimed they had learned from one another and felt this coming-together was essential for improving the community.
48% of community projects funded by the wildflower campaign have been centred in the 30% most deprived areas of the UK since 2014. According to post code analysis using the Indices of Multiple Deprivation, 18% of funded projects were in the 10% most deprived areas this year alone.
Forest Research also found that Grow Wild’s seed kits are having an incredibly significant impact at the most deprived areas, and people from these areas are benefiting the most from the programme. Those who received seed kits in deprived areas were far more likely to claim they learned about their communities and about wildflowers.
Blooming Wild Cardigan, a project run by 4CG (the Society to Sustain and Support the Rural Countryside) and funded by Grow Wild, has continued to inspire young people to seek creative ways to positively impact the environment. An example of this can be found at Pendre Art Cafe, where the group has been knitting bees to educate the public about the importance of wildflowers and pollinating insects.
Gwenda Mark, Project Leader, said: “Our knitted bees are all across town, with labels saying ‘please take me to the bee hospital at Pendre Art Cafe’, where people are given a packet of seeds and instructions on taking care of wildflowers. We have seen the flowers springing up everywhere, including in Wellington boots. The group are now busy as bees knitting wildflowers for a big art installation. Every week different people turn up and it’s been a great way for the community to come together through craft, nature and growing activities.”
Almost 20% (over a quarter of a million) of Grow Wild’s seed kits have gone to groups aged 12-25, proving that young people are indeed getting involved with the project in their communities. Many projects have been funded to specifically target this age group.
After receiving a free packet of seeds from Grow Wild, 60,000 people took part in the Forest Research’s online survey. 79% said they felt a greater sense of responsibility for native wildlife, 73% said they felt connected to something bigger, and 61% said they spent time sowing seeds with their families.
Because Grow Wild sent them free kits, 87% felt their group learned about wildflowers and 22% continued to do something for their community, like setting up a project.
Programme Manager of Grow Wild, Philip Turvil, said: “We’re delighted to see that our wild flower campaign is making a real, quantifiable difference to communities in the UK. More people are enjoying nature and appreciating the value of improving the wildlife where they live.
“We’re particularly excited by our nomination for a National Lottery Award – thanks to Lottery money, so far three million people have taken part in our campaign, through receiving our native wild flower seeds, community funding and by participating online. Achieving national recognition would be an incredible honour and a reward for everyone who’s taken part, including the many enthusiastic volunteers across Wales, and will help to secure the future of UK native wild flowers.”
Time given to develop Parc Natur Penglais
VOLUNTEERS, including students, have given around 500 hours of their time to develop Parc Natur Penglais.
Along with support from Ceredigion County Council, the Group have built around 100 steps in 5 different places which has made the park a great place to walk, play and enjoy around a number of safe paths.
Councillor Mark Strong said: “Knowing that we have the support of the local community makes such a difference to peoples’ enthusiasm and having the grant from Aberystwyth Town Council, Cambrian News and Tesco made it possible. Volunteers can make a relatively small sum of money go long way.”
RSPCA aim for Christmas number one
MUSIC fans across Wales can help the RSPCA secure the Christmas number one slot, and provide vital support for animals in need across the country.
The animal welfare charity has thrown its hat into the ring to claim the festive chart accolade – as up-and-coming singer Lucy Ellie covers Simply Red’s hit song ’Stars’ in aid of the RSPCA.
‘Stars’ is the soundtrack to the charity’s ‘Kindness at Christmas’ video, which has already gone viral with over two million views online across a variety of platforms.
The tear-jerking video tells the story of Woody the Christmas toy pup who who is thrown out with the rubbish before being rescued and taken in for care by the RSPCA.
Proceeds from the single are being donated to the RSPCA to help in their work rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming thousands of animals every year.
RSPCA Cymru is again bracing itself for a busy festive period. In December 2016 and January 2017 alone, in Wales, 5,932 incidents were reported to the RSPCA – with 141 of these on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Lucy Ellie Cooper, who works at the charity, said: “This was a lovely opportunity for me to combine my two loves – animals and music.
“Outside of my job at the RSPCA I am a country music singer and songwriter, so when the chance came up to record such a fantastic and well-known song for the charity’s Christmas video, I jumped at it. I really hope people will take Woody’s story into their hearts and support the RSPCA this winter.”
You can help the RSPCA rescue, rehabilitate and re-home animals in desperate need of care, and support the charity’s ‘kindness’ campaign online
Charity games raise over £2000
NOT all heroes wear capes and Tesco Aberystwyth’s very own Community Champion, Natasha Worrall has proven this raising a staggering £2,096.27 for local and national charities.
Natasha, the brainchild behind the charity football events, came up with the idea first off by challenging Tesco’s neighbours, Marks and Spencer’s, to a football match, she quickly set her powers to work and contacted Aberystwyth Football club who were more than happy to help and allowed use of the pitch.
The Big Day arrived, there was a lot of tension and passion on the pitch that night, it was more than just about winning a match it was the status, the pride and most of all bringing people together to raise money for three great causes; Diabetes UK, British Heart Foundation and Mind. Hundreds of supporters braved the cold October evening to support the players and Tesco stole the show with a 7-1 victory and an amazing £607 was raised.
Natasha now had a taste of success under her cape and wanted to really get this event of the ground and challenged supermarket rivals, Morrisons to a match! The response for Tesco vs Morrisons was just what Natasha wanted and a November date was set.
Tesco now had experience in their boots and both teams had everything to play for. Victory once again went to Tesco who pipped Morrisons at the post and clawed back to a 5-4 victory raising a further £648.15 for Diabetes UK, British Heart Foundation and Clic Sargent.
In true football fashion Natasha wanted a hat trick but could Team Tesco achieve this? Last Sunday (Dec 3) seemed the perfect opportunity and the opponents who were up for the challenge came from Bronglais Hospital and their chosen charity Pila Pala, Llwyn yr Eos. What a match! And what great team to take victory, Hywel Dda 2 – Tesco – 0. A rematch could certainly be on the cards especially as they raised the biggest amount ever of £841.12.
Behind every success there is always great team and working with Natasha and the players a number of local heroes who helped, Ruth’s kitchen provided heroic meals for all the players for a £1 donation, Aberystwyth women’s Team loaned their footballs, the Referees, linesmen, stewards, security, first aiders and ball boys and girls who all donated their time free of charge.
Team Tesco are looking for more opponents to play and raise even more money for local charities, if you are interested please call into Tesco store and see Natasha.
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