Oct 09 2020

What3Words at the Young People’s Forest

 

After returning from Furlough, we wanted to deliver a safe, socially distanced event during the school holidays, to reinvigorate the project, welcome folk to discover the site and for us to shout about the opportunities for young people and the local community to get involved.

Emily Moore our Youth Development Manager had a plan. Why don’t we use the What3Words app as a novel way to allow folk to connect to nature using technology as a guide. I have to be honest, I scratched my head. Being a dinosaur technologically and with exceptionally fat fingers to boot, I was a little sceptical. Until I gave it a go.

Emily devised two self-led trails, collecting 3 words at each navigation point that directed you on to the next one. Our Comms team went into creative overdrive to produce the supporting material in double quick time. Nick Hall and Christina Joachim helped us put in place suitable safety protocols. Then over three days at the end of August, the team and some of our amazing volunteers, discarded our slippers (maybe just me), brushed our hair and donned our Green uniform to welcome intrepid explorers to enjoy the trails.

With a much smaller window than we would normally have to promote an event, it attracted smaller numbers than we had hoped, however this allowed for much deeper and quality conversations sharing plans for the site and importantly ways for young people and the local community to get involved.

Overall feedback was terrific with 68% excellent and 30% good experience, Tanya our MDO generated 7 new memberships, we attracted new adult as well as young volunteers and a school has been in touch to explore  how they might be able to use the site as an outdoor classroom.

It was brilliant to have the team together again with staff and volunteers pitching in to make this happen. Yes… I was even given the task of providing instruction on how to use the app and thankfully we didn’t lose anyone as a result. Rather more down to the well thought out plan, I would suggest, than my technical skills.

We are going to pop the trail back in for half term as a self-led activity and we took loads of learning for how to run a safe event, which is going to be really important as we look forward to our Winter planting programme. Do keep a look out for winter opportunities to volunteer with us at the Young People’s Forest, both  to help deliver events and help us plant. We have an epic 98k trees to get in over this winter, so shine up your spades.

If you would like to find out how we used What3Words and any lessons learned, drop Emily or myself (Brione) a line.

Warmest wishes as ever from all of us at the Young People’s Forest.

Paul Bunton, Communication and Engagement Officer, North England

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