Natural Networks was a TCV training programme which focussed on increasing the biodiversity of local greenspaces to play a role within ecological networks. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural Networks used the innovative approach pioneered by the previous Natural Communities programme to support communities to understand, value and protect their local greenspaces and develop them as a valuable part of local and national 'green' networks.
Between January 2015 and January 2017, Natural Networks provided 32 year-long, work-based training placements in locations across the UK. During each placement, trainees learned skills in:
- The development of green networks
- Surveying, managing and improving local greenspace for biodiversity
- Engaging and supporting local and under-represented communities to understand, enjoy and protect local green places
A flavour of the Natural Networks programme can be gained by the 2016/17 placements:
- Carolyn McFarlane: based in Kilmarnock, Carolyn delivered the Natural Learning Programme to schools in East Ayrshire.
- Jenny Holmes: based in Kilmarnock, Jenny delivered the Natural Learning Programme to schools in East Ayrshire.
- Stephen Porch: based at Pollok Park in Glasgow, Stephen worked alongside Glasgow City Council to raise awareness of the biodiversity value of the White Cart Water and its tributaries.
- Jess Owen: based in the TCV Glasgow office alongside Amanda Malcolm, Jess focussed on Citizen Science in woodlands.
- Emma Straughan: based with Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network, Emma worked alongside them to provide opportunities to enhance greenspace in their Strategic Delivery Areas.
- Paul Barclay: based with the Scottish Wildlife Trust as part of the Cumbernauld Living Landscape project. Paul's role was to build on the work of previous TCV trainees to demonstrate how engagement with the green network can be used as a tool to improve health and wellbeing.
- Giovanna Bisoni: based with the Central Scotland Green Network Trust in Shotts, Giovanna followed on the work of previous trainee Rebecca Nicol. Giovanna used spatial analysis to target those communities most disadvantaged in terms of access to greenspace.
- David Walsh: based with Buglife in Stirling, David worked to promote Fife's Buzzing: a wildflower meadow creation project to community groups and schools across Fife, with a focus on deprived areas.
- Lucy Graham: based in the TCV Edinburgh office to help promote active ageing, with a focus on developing and sharing organisational and practical project delivery around green health in later life.
- Holly Ramsden: based in Leeds with TCV Hollybush and worked with local schools, local authorities and other landowners across Leeds and beyond. Holly worked closely with Leeds Parks and Countryside, Groundwork, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and other local groups.
- Sue Loughran: based in Chester on a partnership-owned site with the Land Trust, Countess of Chester Hospital, the Environment Agency, and Chester and Cheshire West Council. Sue worked alongside these partners on-site to achieve Key Performance Indicators and create a new Friends group for the park.
- Glenn Powell: based in Birmingham, Glenn worked on our successful Health for Life in the Community programme. Glenn spent much of his time working with Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham to support the development of up to 12 green spaces across the hospital site.
- Delyth Hurley: based in Bristol at the Tree Life Centre in partnership with South Gloucester Council. Delyth followed on the work of previous trainee Philip Taylor in promoting the Tree Life Centre as a base for resources. She also worked with groups in the local area to create urban wildflower meadows, and planting pollination sites to create a network of wildflower conservation sites.
- Lizzy Nazer: based at Railway Fields in Haringey, London. Lizzy helped to encourage Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities to engage with their local green places. She also worked with London Borough of Haringey Council to assist them in their understanding and engagement with biodiversity in their parks.
- Kate Evans: based in London with TCV at Waltham Forest. Kate worked with staff and communities to increase volunteer numbers engaging in TCV activities, encourage a greater diversity of attendees at events including BME and diasbled participants, and build on our local network of health and community support partners.
- Clare Street: based in London at the Stave Hill Ecological Park. Clare helped to create and enhance links between greenspaces by promoting and enabling inter-site volunteering. Clare worked across nine sites to encourage cross fertilisation between green spaces with an aim to strengthen all sites and improve connectivity.
- Matt Mordaunt: based at Singleton Environment Centre in Kent. Matt built on the work of the previous trainee Carrie Eeles to identify how TCV can support groups who wish to get closer to nature. Matt identified partners and funding to help people engage with Kent’s landscape and biodiversity.
- David Fleming: based in Coleraine, David was involved in improving the biodiversity of a number of coastal sites, in particular the network of sand dune sites around the North East coast of Northern Ireland. David engaged with local communities and users to increase their awareness and participation in the protection and improvement of these sites.
- Rebekah Stevenson: based in Derry/Londonderry, Rebekah worked to engage with communities in Derry City to help link parks and green spaces to the River Foyle and associated habitats. Rebekah was also involved in monitoring woodland managed by TCV and in expanding TCV's work with communities in surrounding rural areas.