Volunteers in London

Working with young people

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Children and nature... a winning combination, whether it's pond dipping, squirrel watching, digging in the mud to plant spring bulbs or just scrabbling through autumn leaves and cones to make models and collages. We can organise it all.

We can also help green up your school by creating a nature garden, explaining issues like recycling and composting and, of course, teaching about conservation and wildlife.

And when the schools are on holiday, some of our teams organise fun sessions in local parks or nature reserves so youngsters (and parents) can enjoy nature 'hands-on' without even realising they might be learning something too!

We also work with schools, youth clubs and groups of interested youngsters on specific projects or schemes relevant to their area. We have even run award-winning Green Gyms in conjunction with some schools – to encourage youngsters turned-off by sport and traditional exercise to try their hand at something active but without lycra and expensive trainers!

Sound interesting? Check out some of the activities we've been up to below or contact your local office.

Holiday Fun

Conservation and youngsters proved a truly explosive combination throughout the summer holidays at the Greenwich Peninsular Ecology Park managed by TRUE.

Everyone from toddlers to teenagers joined in a series of themed events which saw them erupting home-made volcanoes, building crocodile sculptures, pond-dipping and even making animated films.

'Fresh' events were open to all - free of charge thanks to funding from the Capital Community Foundation Local network Fund - and designed to capture the imagination and entertain while inspiring youngsters to discover nature.

Bug hunts were developed into art projects, recycled rubbish turned crocodile when coated with scales on which the children wrote their green recycling or conservation messages, and a DVD was compiled featuring clay and plasticine models created by visitors to the global-warming themed 'iceberg epic day'.

Others got their hands dirty studying natural camouflage techniques and tracking night creatures such as bats and moths.

But the event that caused the biggest bang was definitely the volcano study day, creating model eruptions with basic kitchen ingredients.

Grounds for improvement

London volunteers went back to school in Islington, in a bid to increase diversity in the playground - but the new intake they are hoping to encourage are of the four to eight-legged variety.

The Biodiversity Action Team (north) swapped satchels for spades and pens for pond materials ready to transform a disused 'flower' bed into a fun-packed wildlife garden – with a winding log path, decking and wooden benches, a raised pond and appropriate plants.

"When we started I didn't know what to expect from the children during breaktime," said Volunteer Officer Luke Berman, who was working in the garden right alongside the playground. "I couldn't have been more surprised. Not only were they interested in what we were up to, some kids were giving us suggestions in how we should go about doing things. It was truly amazing seeing their faces every time we did a bit more."

Community projects

Getting to grips with the great outdoors has been putting colour into the environment as well as children's cheeks this autumn, with a massive bulb-planting project across Haringey.

Around 400 schoolchildren (four to nine-year-olds), have been out in the borough's parks and housing estates planting thousands of daffodils, crocus, bluebells and snowdrops, ready for the spring.

The Brighter Haringey 07 project has also involved volunteers from various 'Friends' groups and Residents' Associations, who – with the youngsters – will have buried some 45,000 bulbs in total.

The London Borough of Haringey have supplied the bulbs, and helped with site preparation, while The Conservation Volunteers project leaders have managed the planting sessions and organised pre-planting talks with the youngsters; explaining about the project, the importance of the environment and health and safety.

Greener teaching

Youngsters visiting The Conservation Volunteers in East Croydon have been learning about conservation with a difference – outside in the garden.

Sitting on the Green Flag Coombe Wood gardens site, the Pond Cottage office underwent a wash and brush up to transform its under-used yard into a quiet haven for wildlife. . . complete with planting for insects and butterflies, log piles for beetles, bird feeders and nest boxes and compost bins and water recycling units.

Now local schools are being invited to visit the garden to learn about wildlife and how it can be cared for and encouraged and to sharpen up their knowledge on recycling and sustainability. But it's not all fun in the sun in this newly created outdoor classroom. The pupils had to work too – making fat and seed bird feeders from pine cones collected on their woodland walk.

In Haringey, The Conservation Volunteers run school visits to their council-owned nature reserve base, talking about conservation and getting hands on where possible with practical sessions such as pond dipping and mini-beast hunts.