Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Getting out in Gloucester!

Posted: September 22, 2015 at 11:36 am Author: Karen Price

The role of the Community Inclusion team is to enable a greater number of people from under-represented groups to experience the arboretum and to connect with trees. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Community Youth Officer Karen Price is working with young people so that they can discover, explore and enjoy the arboretum, either as part of an organised group or as individual visitors.

As the summer term drew to a close and fond farewells were waved to departing groups, the community youth team hit the road… to Gloucester.

Working in partnership with Active Connections, a not for profit organisation which works to connect communities with sport and recreation in urban areas, six roadshows were held over the summer holidays in and around the city of Gloucester.

The aim was to take a taster of the Wild Westonbirt community youth programme to young people and communities that wouldn’t otherwise visit the arboretum.

Working alongside Active Connections, who offer a range of more familiar street sports to young people, we aimed to engage young people in activities they may not be so familiar with such as fire lighting and coppice tool use.

After a slow start in Kingsway on a wet Wednesday afternoon, numbers picked up over the next week, with curious onlookers attracted by the smoke from mini campfires in Gloucester Park. All of these participants were invited to a fun day at the arboretum in week three, which saw over 100 young people and children playing zorb football and splitting firewood on the Downs.

We welcomed another 50 participants to Robinswood Hill Country Park the following week, on a blazing hot day was a lazing hot day – we ended up fire lighting non stop for three hours!

Unfortunately a very rainy day brought activities to an early halt in Podsmeade despite our attempts to continue with 20 people squeezed under the gazeebo.

Luckily our final day in the city, spent at White City and working with staff and young people from the Venture Playground, saw a return to sunshine and non-stop activities with another 40 participants.

The summer was rounded off with a promotional event at this years Treefest, with over 750 people, young and old, taking part in coppice restoration themed hands on ‘have-a-go’ activities, including a timed fire lighting challenge and the use of a 100 year old cross cut saw as part of the Westonbirt at Work display area. In total, over 1000 people took part in these activities over the summer holidays, going a long way to reaching new audiences