Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust decided to use part of the funding from players of People's Postcode Lottery on a programme on a small reserve on the edge of Welshpool.
Nurtured by Nature is a programme based on the Severn Farm Nature Reserve in the middle of an industrial estate in Welshpool. The project works with vulnerable members of society including mental health service users, young carers, young offenders, elderly care home residents and the physically disabled.
Every week people attend the supported volunteering sessions and get a chance to learn practical reserve maintenance skills while also growing in confidence and social skills. The scheme has generated new friendships with groups that are frequently socially isolated even in a small town like Welshpool. The project is part of the Trust's more wide reaching People and Wildlife programme, working with local communicites to ensure everyone has the right to enjoy the natural environment and wildlife.
Weekly sessions are a chance for the volunteers to learn new skills in reserve maintenance and wildlife conservation whilst enjoying a healthy outdoor social opportunity. The sessions are successful at breaking down social stereotyping as well as developing support networks amongst a group of people who would not ordinarily meet up. This regular opportunity has played a significant part in moving the individuals towards independence.
Activities have included maintaining the wildlife demonstration garden there, general reserve maintenance and building infrastructure and interpretation, and planting native trees and plants to increase and improve the wildlife and facilities on the site.
One of the people who benefits from the project is Stephen Thomas, aged 24, who has volunteered with Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust for two years. He is very active within the community and regularly fundraises on behalf of Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust. He says:
“Volunteering at the reserve helps me keep fit and meet new people and it’s also great to see so much wildlife. I’m always telling people in the town to volunteer as a little bit of work makes a massive difference. If it wasn’t for the help of People’s Postcode Lottery players, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”