New Staff, New Trees and New Partnerships at Smithills
For 2019, Smithills is continuing to expand the team and range of engagement offers to local communities. 2019 is promising to be another huge year for the project, so let’s start off with the new member of the team.
Andy Thorn is our newest member of the team as he becomes the Smithills Estate Ranger. Andy comes from a background of conservation and practical work in the Lake District National Park and is a regular walker on the hills of Smithills.
Andy will help increase our presence out on the Smithills Estate, assist with wildlife and woodland management, deal with day to day maintenance of the estate and run educational workshops teaching students from Myerscough College practical management skills.
In March we will host our second ever public tree planting season. This year we have opened a two week period up to local groups to come and help is plant new trees around the brand new Walker Fold Gateway car park. Groups signed up so far include the Muslim Youth Association, Backup Bolton and Phoenix Futures.
Scene from the 2018 tree planting season. Give a lass from Bolton a spade and a sapling and not even the strongest winter gale will stop her from planting that tree!
As well as these groups we have a completely public tree planting day on the 9th March. From 10AM-3PM members of the public will be arriving to plant new oaks, birch and rowan.
With everything nearly booked up it looks like we’re more than ready to plant a whopping 28,650 trees this spring! Fingers crossed for now ‘Beasts from the East’ this time…
Below are three community groups which we are building greater bonds with to encourage more people to enjoy our woodlands and countryside.
Dementia Friendly Walks
We’ve been working with Manchester based City of Trees for years but this year we’ll be collaborating on something quite different. Starting in April, we will be working together to run dementia friendly walks. Each month the walk will feature a different activity including walking, practical activities, and memory boxes.
The ability to explore and enjoy the outdoors is something most people take for granted, but for those groups who don’t have access, such as dementia sufferers, not being outdoors regularly can have serious effects. Vitamin D intake and reduced stress levels are both big factors that dementia patients miss out on. Even 10-15 minutes of being in the countryside can bring big benefits
Alongside the health walks we will be doing at Smithills, we are also in talks to do even more with Age UK. Physical health is something that visiting our woods can bring instantly. But what about social health?
By working with Age UK, we want to put on events with a social activity that not only gets participants walking but also talking to others. According to Age UK research, half a million people over the age of 60 usually spend every day alone, with nearly half a million more often going at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. This can greatly affect their mental health which in turn affects their physical health.
BRASS (Bolton Refugee and Asylum Seeker Befriending Service)
Through the Smithills project we want to demonstrate why we should protect areas of urban woodland by engaging all aspects of local community. We are in particular looking at groups that may feel the most isolated to show how vital local woods can be to forming, growing and unifying the ‘community’. To this end we have started to work with the Bolton refugee community through BRASS to promote our work.
After some discussion, we now have a member of the BRASS Team signed up as a Woodland Trust volunteer who can promote our work to the group. He is also a keen enviromentalist who has been involved in forestry in his home country of Cameroon. This partnership is in its infancy, so watch this space!
If you have any questions about the Smithills Project or about our community work, please either call the office number or team email address: 0330 333 5314/ firstname.lastname@example.org