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.”
Christmas gift fair returns
NEXT Friday (Oct 20), the annual craft and gifts extravaganza will return to Aberystwyth Arts Centre to get the locals in the mood for Christmas.
The Winter Craft & Gift Fair is sure to get visitors feeling festive in the run up to Christmas with over 80 stalls selling a wonderful array of crafts and gifts, many produced by local makers from Ceredigion and mid Wales.
This year will feature many regular stalls, as well as some who will be selling at the fair for the first time, so prepare to discover the unusual and unexpected at this year’s fair with it’s new layout and products for 2017.
The fair will be open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday and 12 to 5.30pm on Sundays all the way up until December 23.
On Saturday, November 25, the Arts Centre’s Christmas Food Fair will take over the Great Hall for the day. There will be the very best of Welsh produce with cheese, meats, fish, wine, cider, pastries, puddings, jams and much, much more from many local producers. The Food Fair is the perfect place to stock up on a few gastronomic goodies in the run up to Christmas. There will also be live musical entertainment to get you in the Christmassy mood! The fair will be on 10am-4pm and entry is free!
‘It’s ok to say’
ON WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY, farmers across Wales are being reminded that ‘it’s ok to say’ and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging them not to hide problems from themselves, their families and friends and to talk about their personal feelings.
The FUW made a commitment at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in July to continue raising awareness of mental health problems in rural communities and is therefore renewing the call for those who might be suffering from mental health problems to seek help.
“The focus of this year’s World Mental Health day is on mental health in the workplace and farms are just that. In our places of work we’ve faced some pretty low-points in the last few years. Bovine TB, price volatility and uncertainty about our future post-Brexit, this all puts a strain on our resolve and will have many feeling stressed and under immense pressure,” said Union President Glyn Roberts.
“But we must break the stigma attached to mental health, so if you’re feeling vulnerable, please open-up and speak to someone. That doesn’t just mean today, but always. Farmers and farming families need to continue talking openly about what they are experiencing and the FUW strongly encourages anyone who is worried about their own mental health or a loved-one, to seek help from the Farming Community Network, Tir Dewi, The DPJ Foundation, Mind Cymru or Call Helpline Wales,” added Glyn Roberts.
Scholarship scheme funds student’s Masters
A TALYBONT native is one of just 28 people in the UK to be awarded a scholarship granted by energy company ScottishPower.
Stella Foster, 32, gratefully received the grant from the Scottish Power Foundation for the 2017/18 academic year.
Having just completed an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of York, Stella will begin her Masters in Environmental Sciences this week at the University of East Anglia. Environmental science degrees integrate biology, physical science and information sciences to examine environmental systems (air, water, etc.) and how they interact.
The sought-after scholarship covers full enrolment costs as well as a living allowance. On top of this, the scholars will receive unique opportunities including meeting leading industry professionals.
“Travelling around the world and living in China before I started my undergraduate studies made me aware of the astounding change of pace in urbanisation; the two-hour bus ride from where I lived to Shanghai, there wasn’t a moment where you couldn’t see a construction site,” Stella said.
“This fast and dramatic development creates issues with the environment, and I’m really excited to learn about the creative and fascinating solutions out there, and hopefully come up with some of my own,” she added.
Since it was launched in 2010, the ScottishPower Foundation scholarships programme has provided £1.5m in grants towards training the next generation in their chosen field.
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