Project: Coaching volunteers and engaging children of keyworkers to look after local natural habitats
Fund: NET Coronavirus Appeal (more info)
Chiltern Rangers is an organisation working in Bucks and the wider Chilterns, providing practical habitat management to enhance the Chiltern’s habitats through conservation, education and community engagement.
When the coronavirus pandemic began in the UK and lockdown was enforced, Chiltern Rangers’ environmental work was brought to a halt in order to keep their volunteers safe. With the help of their £3,000 grant from the NET Coronavirus Appeal, they have been able to bring back their volunteers step by step to take part in community projects with an environmental focus.
Chiltern Rangers’ funding was used to induct, coach and build the confidence of their volunteers. They put measures in place to ensure a set number of volunteers attended each session in order to keep a social distance, enabling them to safely coach over 380 under-18 volunteers and 600 adult volunteers between 19th May and 18th October. In total, the volunteers contributed 2,400 hours of time to improving Buckinghamshire’s woodlands, rivers, meadows, parks and community spaces. They have also re-started their Forest Ranger School Programmes with 200 children enjoying learning outdoors already.
The funding was also used to buy extra tools to ensure the safety of the volunteers, including a mobile handwashing kit, antiviral sprays, and gloves and goggles for volunteers to keep.
In July, Chiltern Rangers were able to support the children of keyworkers, with 18 children from Castlefield School joining Chiltern Rangers on a ‘Be a Junior Ranger’ session as a reward for being at school during the lockdown. The children worked in their ‘bubbles’ , litter picking in Castlefield Woods (clearing the woods of 30 bags of rubbish) and river kick sampling in waders at Desborugh Recreation Ground.
More recently, Chiltern Rangers have re-launched their ‘Green Thursday’ morning volunteer sessions with extra rakes being bought from the fund for meadow raking. They have also partnered with Barnados to work with young people involved in their Article 12 Youth Group and Be Safe projects.
“Before the day, I didn’t think it would be that fun but it really was. I loved looking at the river minibeasts and learning about caring for them but the best bit was the litter pick, doing something that really mattered. My legs didn’t hurt THAT much after all the climbing!”
– Year 4 ‘Junior Ranger’
“I wanted to thank you again for a smashing day yesterday – the kids are still talking about it this morning and slept well last night. They were engaged from start to finish and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Some of our pupils have discovered a passion for the environment that will give them a positive purpose in future life”
– Castlefield School teacher