Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

The Westonbirt Project - Community Inclusion update

Posted: May 2, 2014 at 13:12 pm

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’.

Since we started in January, we have been busy consulting with a wide range of groups and organisations to discover what they would like to engage with at the arboretum. The groups have come from a wide range of backgrounds from a catchment area of up to an hours drive from the arboretum and so include both rural and urban areas.

Youth Inclusion

The past four months have involved asking young people what would make them want to come to the arboretum. Their answer - anything adventurous where they can put themselves to the test, i.e. den building (and sleeping in them), bush craft skills, learning how to use tools, wide games, night hikes and team challenges. Over the next few months we will be piloting some of these activities with a range of groups, including Tetbury Guides, Hanham Youth Centre and South Gloucestershire Youth Board to test out what works well.

We have been working with our coppicing team over the last three months and are now excited to start trailing a number of community coppice programmes from early June. The community coppice programme aims to provide groups with an introduction to woodland management and tool use as well as bring back into use some of our derelict coppice sites. Groups signed up so far include Turning Point, Bristol Drugs Project and Nelson Trust.

Community Inclusion

Much of the consultation with adult community groups has been taking place to pilot two brand new facilitated visits here at the Arboretum.

Activities aim to bring together individuals in a social, creative way through utilising the arboretum’s natural environment to enhance their health and wellbeing. Groups will explore the arboretum unique environment through their senses and learn about nature printing techniques or how to create a hand balm with products from trees along with a facilitated hand massage workshop. Groups booked on so far include; Uplands Care Service and Gloucester Rural Community Council and Patchway Dementia Awareness Alliance.

The outreach programme, ‘Westonbirt on The Move’ has been building momentum now with over 10 different care and nursing homes booked to participate with the trial over the next few months. Through working with activity coordinators and speaking with the residents to find out what would be most engaging, the programme will follow a reminiscent theme. It’ll aim to invigorate memories and connect individuals with our trees through scent, touch and sound. Watch this space for updates!

If you would like any more information about any of these projects, please feel free to contact Karen Price (Community Youth Officer) or Claire Goulding (Community Inclusion Officer) on 0300 067 4854.