Thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, part of Wildlife Trusts Wales, is working with the community to help them enjoy the natural world.
The Nurtured by Nature project is based at Severn Farm Pond Nature Reserve and has been running for six years. It reaches out to people from all walks of life, offering them a chance to learn practical land management skills while gaining confidence and making friends.
Severn Farm Pond was developed in 1989 from the site of a waste tip on the edge of a new industrial estate in Welshpool, Mid Wales, and since then has been a community hub. A dedicated group of volunteers are committed to keeping the reserve in top condition for the wildlife that lives there and the people who visit. The large majority of the Nurtured by Nature volunteers are considered as vulnerable adults and young people who either access mental health or special educational services.
Weekly sessions provide 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 in breaking down social stereotyping and have played a significant part in moving people towards independence.
Activities have included maintaining the wildlife demonstration garden, general reserve maintenance, 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 25, who has volunteered with Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust for two years.
He said, "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."
Thomas Houghton, aged 22, studied horticulture at university and attends the weekly sessions. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with the other volunteers there. He said, "It’s really good that Severn Farm Pond is here to benefit wildlife for the community to enjoy. I love volunteering here. which is giving me great skills and experience for the job in conservation that I hope to get one day."
Mel Chandler is Community Partnerships Officer at Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust and facilitates the volunteering sessions at the reserve. She said, "The generosity from players of People's Postcode Lottery has really helped us teach people from all backgrounds about the value of nature. It's fantastic to see the transformation that our work can make to people's lives.
"We're so grateful for this support and we would like to thank each and every player for their contribution to Welsh wildlife."
Funding from players, which so far totals over £657,470, helps the six Wildlife Trusts in Wales to deliver educational opportunities and events as well as maintain nature reserves across the country.