18 August 2011
Growing up as an urban kid the closest I got to nature was scouting woodland adjacent to our local golf course to retrieve lost balls to sell – Dragons Den move over! It was quite a few more years until I discovered – as I’m sure you have yourself- what a tonic getting out into wild, green spaces can be.
So it’s a massive privilege to be involved in Community Space Challenge – a national programme led by Catch 22 which is all about young people not just getting out into their local green spaces, but also taking a stewardship role caring for and developing those spaces. With 5 year investment from the Big Lottery Fund, 70 urban communities across England have benefited from teams of young people determined to freshen up some unloved spaces and bring a touch of nature into the estate.
August is a big month for us. We celebrate the 100,000th hour of volunteer action given by young people to improve the spaces around them. That’s rather a lot of digging, painting, weeding, building and planting! To celebrate we’ve been out on the road joining our CSC young people. Yesterday we got sunburnt in Chester painting fences and blitzing litter and weeds – a frog appeared from nowhere and it was glorious to see the group gather round in excitement. Today was Goole in Yorkshire – about 20 teenagers were braving the rain to build a new pond at a local nature reserve. Whilst the adult guests tiptoed around the mud the lads (and lady) embraced the muck wholeheartedly! Birmingham is next for an all-dayer to lay a wildflower meadow on the overgrown site of a demolished pub.
As a youth charity this programme has been an eye-opener for us at Catch 22. It has taught us that the park is as good a venue for youth work as that brand-new youth centre down the road. That young people can become as interested in nurturing their home-grown veg patch as they are in Facebook. And most importantly, that there is an army of young people out there who, with the right support, are up for the challenge of becoming the next guardians of our prized green spaces.
By David Hopkins, Community Space Challenge
Enter your email address below to join our mailing list: