Category Archives: youth

Lights, camera, wildlife, action!

If you had the opportunity to film your experiences in the Tame Valley Wetlands, what would they include? Walks? Wildlife? History?

All this and more was the focus of a documentary made by young people in the Tame Valley Wetlands over the summer holiday. With the help of local film maker Simon Walker, the group from The Sanctuary in Castle Vale worked together to explore the wetlands, decide on the content of their film, and had a chance to get behind the camera and edit the final version.

Nicola, our Youth Engagement Officer, helped the girls to explore new locations in the Tame Valley Wetlands, get up close and personal with our native (and occasionally non-native!) wildlife and learn new skills, the most important of which was obviously how to toast the perfect marshmallow!

“We all had a really fun experience making this documentary, and it was amazing to see how the girls worked together over the summer to write the script and get the perfect shots to make the film, as well as exploring their local landscapes and learning about our local wildlife. This experience is something that they will remember for a long time”.

New Gnomes and Toy Trains

This is a story of generosity, of kindness and of garden gnomes. You may remember the great ‘Gnome Massacre’ at Echills Wood Railway in Kingsbury Water Park earlier this year, where dozens of gnomes that had been donated over the years were smashed overnight by vandals.

Well, one Tamworth based group decided that they wanted to help. SkillsTank from CareFirst, a group for adults with special needs, bought and handpainted several gnomes with the intention of donating them to the railway in replacement of the damaged population, and this week they were able to donate them in person.

Such an act of generosity gets repaid in kind! When the Echills Wood Railway volunteers heard that SkillsTank were visiting Kingsbury Water Park with their gnomes, they decided to put on a special chartered train ride for the group. After being met and briefed by Railway staff, we were taken round to the new gnome village, where the group were able to give their gnomes a new home next to the railway lines. This was followed by not one, but two, circuits around the Park on the toy trains, put on especially for the SkillsTank group. The friendliness and kindness of the Railway staff was met with vigorous waving all the way round the tracks!

Nicola Lynes, the Youth Engagement Officer for the Tame Valley Wetlands, said “part of what we try to do within the Tame Valley Wetlands is to connect different groups of people and work together for the benefit of the environment and people who live within the Wetlands.”

The Echills Wood Railway is a miniature railway located in Kingsbury Water Park and runs passenger services on weekends – find out more on their website www.ewr.org.uk

The Tame Valley Wetlands youth engagement programme aims to increase connection between young people and their local natural spaces. For more information, contact Nicola at youth@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk

Apprentice Blog: Goodbye Tame Valley Wetlands

25.08.17 Today is my last day as a marketing apprentice for the Tame Valley Wetlands.

I have enjoyed every moment of my journey over the last 17 months and I am forever grateful for all the support that I have been given. I have learnt so much by being here and not just to do with marketing either. I have experienced seeing different species of animals for the first time, such as a Kingfisher and Water Voles. I have discovered about the flow of a river and how it can be slowed down by islands and sped up by being canalised. I have explored many of the nature reserves in the Tame Valley Wetlands that I never knew existed before. I have met some of the most inspirational and amazing people, all who have helped or are helping to protect and conserve the Tame Valley. I have enjoyed a variety of events that have been hosted either by the scheme or partners. I have gained knowledge and skill in photography through courses, so that I can enjoy my passion for taking photos better. I have grown in confidence through helping out on events and working with youth groups from schools and organisations across the Tame Valley Wetlands.

None of this would’ve been possible if it wasn’t for the Tame Valley Wetlands team, who have pushed my to strive for my best, who have continuously praised me and made me feel a part of the team, who have told me that I can do anything I set my mind to and who have given me the opportunity to excel in such a wonderful environment. There are really not enough words to describe how amazing my time here has been and I am truly sad to leave but I am also very ready for my next challenge and to better myself and my skills in a different work sector.

Below is a quick video that I have made to show off my favourite moments over the last 17 months. Thank you to all who I have had the pleasure of meeting!

National Citizen Service participants lend a helping hand!

Over the summer, almost 100 young people on the National Citizen Service (NCS) gave their time to help out on Local Nature Reserves around Tamworth. As part of their NCS programme, run by UpRising Birmingham, the groups spend time visiting different community groups and charities in the area, then design and deliver their own social action project in their locality.

Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme hosted each group for a conservation taster day during their programme. The young people visited either Broad Meadow, Kettlebrook or Warwickshire Moor Local Nature Reserves, pitching in to help with tasks such as removing Himalayan balsam, laying bark chip along a path, or removing invasive willow. Each of these sites has a dedicated volunteer group made up of local people, and are supported by the Wild About Tamworth project. Although only visiting the site for a few hours, the NCS participants explored the area and put their energy into helping to complete a task which benefits the reserve and the people who use the areas.

Pam Clark, a volunteer at Warwickshire Moor, said this after the groups visited:

“Thanks to all the young people who came today. They worked hard for us and it really is much appreciated.”

As well as attending the taster days, two groups also asked if they could return to do more conservation volunteering as part of their social action project. In total over the whole summer, 98 young people from Lichfield and Tamworth have spent over 260 hours giving their time to conservation volunteering in Tamworth. Nicola Lynes, Youth Engagement Officer for Tame Valley Wetlands, said:

“I’m really pleased at the hard work that has been put in by all the NCS participants. Our aim at the Tame Valley Wetlands is to introduce people to their local green spaces, and this has given the young people in Tamworth a chance to see the environment on their doorstep, learn ways in which they can care for it, and engage with it in a positive way.”

This project is part of the Tame Valley Wetlands – a landscape partnership scheme supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, aiming to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all.

The Tame Valley Wetlands is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with a wide variety of organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.

For more information, contact Nicola Lynes at youth@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk or on 01675 470917.

Wildlife Discovery Day – BioBlitz 2017 Success!

Kingsbury Water Park’s, Community Wetland is teaming with wildlife after 612 species were recorded throughout a 24 hour BioBlitz, hosted by the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (TVWLPS).

The Wildlife Discovery Day took place on 7/8 July’17, welcoming 78 primary school children from Kingsbury village, a variety of species experts, Rangers from the County Council and the Environment Agency. Members of the public also entered into the fun, through a range of activities, such as walks, talks and demonstrations, all for free!

The goal for the 24 hour period was to record 300 different species, including mammals, birds, insects, amphibians, plants, trees and fish, in the 6 hectare Community Wetland area at the Country Park, restored and improved by the TVWLPS with the help of local volunteers and thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award, Environment Agency and The Howard Victor Skan Charitable Trust. This goal was ‘blown out of the water’ with records doubling expectations, thanks to the commitment of everyone involved and the restoration work undertaken on site. All the records discovered make a huge impact on the data for the area, helping experts from the Warwickshire Biological Record Centre determine the biodiversity value in the area, keeping an eye on endangered and rarer species at the same time.

 

You can do your own recording

It’s easy and you don’t need to be an expert! Download a wildlife recording app for on-the-go, or collect the data on a form and send it to your local wildlife record centre or Wildlife Trust.

You can contribute to wildlife recording in the Tame Valley by submitting your sightings on the TVW iSpot page.

 

Bioblitz

Would you like to know more about what a BioBlitz is? Click here!

John Muir Award Update

Since January 2017, 33 young people across the Tame Valley Wetlands have achieved their John Muir Award (Discovery Level) with the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme. The nationally recognised award is an environmental scheme, focused on wild spaces and connecting people from all walks of life with nature.

Youth Engagement Officer, Nicola Lynes, delivered the award to students from The Rawlett School, Skills Tank CareFirst and Kingsbury High School. Each student worked through the 4 key principles that make up the John Muir Award – ‘Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share’ – by visiting a natural space, such as their school grounds or a nearby nature reserve.

Each group had the chance to discover and explore their wild space in a way that suited them best. One group looked for signs of animals and their tracks, another learned the difference between a badger sett and a fox hole, whilst the final group enjoyed getting VERY muddy by jumping in a big mud puddle for an hour!

This wasn’t the only fun though. To complete their discover and explore sections, the students took part in a variety of activities, such as fire lighting, den building, bridge building, games and crafts.

Next step was conserve, from which each group got to decide what they were going to do to improve their green space. Finally, they created a presentation of their preference and shared it with their friends, teachers and family.

All 33 students came away with a personal certificate and a sense of achievement. The award encouraged them to work together, communicate, create something to share and build a connection with nature.

The next stage of the John Muir Award is the Explorer Level… who will be the first group to achieve this?…

A New Year’s Resolution to Volunteer?

It’s that time of year again! New Year’s resolutions are being made and at the top of many people’s lists are things like ‘Get fit’ or ‘Keep active’. If you’re of a younger age, it might be ‘Get a new job’, ‘Get into university’ or ‘Do well in exams’. If this is the case, TameYouth may be just what you are looking for!

TameYouth is a youth volunteer group for 16-25 year olds, created by Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme, which runs valuable conservation projects and community engagement in the hidden wetland landscape between Tamworth and Birmingham. The group currently meet once a month to help with a range of tasks on different sites, including removing invasive species, planting reeds, and working on footpath maintenance. The format of the meeting times are changing in 2017 to allow for more participation among young people in the scheme area.

Nicola Lynes, Youth Engagement Officer for the Scheme, explains more:

“TameYouth was set up in 2016 and we had some great volunteering days around Tamworth and Kingsbury Water Park, but we’re aiming to become even bigger and better in 2017. Some of the barriers to youth volunteering are lack of opportunity and lack of accessibility. We aim to tackle this challenge by running sessions once every 3 weeks as well as having a minibus pick-up service. This will allow individuals to access the harder to reach areas, which could benefit from some conservation work.”

Conservation volunteering is a great way to get outside and keep fit, but there are lots of other hidden benefits to joining a youth volunteer group.

“If you are looking to gain some experience for a new job, build up volunteering hours for Duke of Edinburgh, or want an extracurricular activity to put on your personal statement for university or college, TameYouth provides all of this as well as a great social atmosphere.”

This project is part of the Tame Valley Wetlands – a landscape partnership scheme supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, aiming to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all. The Tame Valley Wetlands is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with a wide variety of organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils.

From January, TameYouth will meet every third Sunday starting from Sunday 15thJanuary, between 10am-1pm. If you are between 16 and 25 and are interested in joining, please get in touch with Nicola Lynes at youth@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk, call 01675 470917 or look on the website at www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk/youth-project for more information.

TameYouth this Saturday 10th September

Are you young and bored of doing the same old thing? Fancy trying something new? Well look no further and join our TameYouth volunteer group now.

This is a great way to gain new skills, get extra credit and obtain essential employable skills needed for the future. Plus its a complete laugh and so much fun!

Really interested now? Well…

We have a TameYouth session on this Saturday 10th September at Hodge Lane Local Nature Reserve! Meet at 10am at Hodge Lane Local Nature Reserve (off Chandlers Drive, B77 4NY) and finish at 1pm.

#TameYWe will be improving habitat created by the local volunteer group. Wear suitable clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. Refreshments will be provided! We will also cover travel expenses of up to 20 miles.

For further info, contact Nicola (Youth Engagement Officer) at youth@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk.

See you soon 🙂 

Summer 16′ – Young fun in the sun!

A summer of youth engagement across the Tame Valley Wetlands

Young people tend to get a bad rep in the summer holidays. “They’re always hanging around, making trouble” goes the old familiar complaint. Yes, some young people do hang around, some do make trouble and some make lots of noise and disturb their neighbours. But to tarnish all young people with the actions of a few is deeply unfair, and is stereotyping at its worst.

Here at the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme, we have been lucky enough to have an incredibly busy programme of youth engagement this summer, with no fewer than 132 young people putting in almost 500 hours of volunteering around the Tame Valley Wetlands scheme area in the Midlands – and the summer isn’t even over yet!

Making trouble? Far from it! Making haystacks is more like it!

ncs

NCS Tamworth at Warwickshire Moor Local Nature Reserve – Photo credit Nicola Lynes.

There have been two waves of participants from the National Citizen Service in Tamworth, delivered by Uprising Birmingham and they got stuck in on the hottest days of the year to remove invasive Himalayan balsam, plant reeds and rake up grass on a meadow to encourage the growth of wildflowers. One group even went a step further and organised an event to raise much needed funds and awareness for the Tameside Wildlife Conservation Group.

We have also had sessions with our regular youth groups, CareFirst in Tamworth and WCAVA from North Warwickshire. These groups are made up of young adults with additional needs, and have been visiting sites across the scheme area in order to explore their local spaces and contribute to the conservation of the areas.

Our own youth volunteering group, TameYouth, also had a great morning at Wigginton Park one Saturday removing old tree guards from an established hedge. Even though the group spent most of the time hidden under the hedgerow, the sudden appearance of tree guards being flung out from the greenery needed a warning sign to passing dog walkers!

The commitment and enthusiasm shown by the young people this summer has been staggering. Through conversation and discussion we’ve heard about how young people want to gain work experience, that they want to learn new things, spend more time outside, explore their local area more…does this sound like a lazy teenager to you? These young people are the ones who will be growing up to make waves in the world. We should all be encouraging their interests and talents, and at the Tame Valley Wetlands, we are proud to be doing just that.

Be a part of the Tame Valley Wetlands team! Join one of our volunteer groups today – it’s just a click away! – *Next TameYouth session is Saturday 10th September!!*

NCS Tamworth’s battle with balsam!

A team of 16-17 year-olds from Tamworth’s National Citizen Service (NCS), led by UpRising Birmingham, have given over 300 hours of their time to volunteer with the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme at Tameside Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in Tamworth.

P1011369 resized  Three days of practical conservation at Tameside LNR saw the youth group work tirelessly in the boiling sun and pouring rain to help carry out important reserve management. Tasks included non-native species control, focussing on Himalayan balsam, which is well known for its notorious spreading ability, outcompeting native species and increasing riverbank erosion. The team also tried their hand at some reed planting and meadow management, which entailed raking the meadow grass and creating hay stacks.

  The tasks will help improve a variety of habitats and increase the number of species living on this important wildlife site and area of floodplain next to the River Tame.

In addition, the NCS team delivered a fundraising and awareness day, where they spent the day in Tamworth’s town centre, selling cakes and raising awareness of the wider Tame Valley Wetlands area. By the end of the day they had ran out of stock and raised a fantastic £123.74 for Tameside Wildlife Conservation Group. All the proceeds will be spent to further improve Tameside LNR for people and wildlife.

Nicola Lynes, Youth Engagement Officer for the Tame Valley Wetlands Scheme said “We are honoured to have been chosen to be the group’s social action project for NCS and are really grateful for the time they spent volunteering with us”.

Ron Timms, Treasurer of Tameside Wildlife Conservation Group said “the effort they put in was excellent and I hope they enjoyed their experience”.

Are you interested in helping improve your local environment? Go to our volunteering page for opportunities available for all ages and abilities, and follow us on social media to keep up-to-date with everything that’s going on throughout the summer holidays.