A lottery grant has come to the rescue of one of our pioneering projects, which had been under serious threat.
The Hastings Wild Things scheme has been running since 2010. It uses wildlife and nature to help disadvantaged young people and families gain new skills and confidence and engage with animal welfare issues.
It launched with the help of a three year lottery grant and offered children, teens and young parents the chance to experience the great outdoors through a range of activities at the 56 acre-woodland at our Mallydams Woods Centre in Hastings.
Despite being an instant hit with children, teens and young parents, the project struggled financially after this initial funding ran out and there were fears it would not be able to continue.
Five years of funding
Now the scheme has been awarded a £470,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund for five years.
Bel Deering, manager of Mallydams Wood, said:
“We’re absolutely over the moon with this news.
“The response to the project has been incredibly positive from the start. I have seen with my own eyes the difference it has made to so many young people and families in the area – it has really transformed lives.
“It has been the first time many of the children had seen wildlife and woods – so many people get little chance to get close to nature these days. It’s also an opportunity for us to encourage a respect for wildlife and nature among younger generations.
“It’s been touch and go financially though, and there have been times when we just didn’t think we would be able to continue. The fact that we now have five years funding makes such a difference to what we can do.”
Allow the project to expand
Hastings is ranked by the government as being in the 10 per cent most deprived local authority areas in the country.
Many young people and families who take part in this scheme face personal and social challenges, and the scheme hopes to inspire them through the natural world and boost their self-esteem through practical outdoor activities and education.
The money will pay for two new posts, a community engagement manager and a family engagement officer. It will also allow the project to expand and work with more young people and families, teaching them to enjoy and respect wildlife.
The project has won several awards including the Senior Section Play Achievement Award at the SPARK awards last week, on Wednesday, 12 November. This award was given for their work creating natural play opportunities for families and children to engage with both nature and animal welfare.
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