Vast numbers of children in the UK today grow up with little or no contact with the natural world. With the help of players of People's Postcode Lottery, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) gives hundreds of thousands of children every year an unforgettable natural experience that, for many, is the first step towards a lifelong love of wildlife.
Thanks to a £200,000 boost from players, those children (and adults too) have enjoyed wetland adventures. They have hand-fed the world's rarest goose, seen huge flocks of flamingos, encountered otters eating fish just feet away or canoed through quiet waterways spotting water voles.
The charity makes nature accessible to all. At their world-class nature reserves, WWT helps first-time visitors get as much thrill from the wildlife as the most seasoned birdwatcher.
WWT's Head of Learning Ann Nicol explains, “There are so many barriers that stop kids from getting outside and exploring these days, in the way we might have done as children. WWT creates places where everyone, no matter what their age or physical ability, can have an amazing experience of seeing wildlife up close, and hopefully sparks a passion that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
“WWT's staff have so many ideas to make learning about wildlife fun. With the help of the players of People's Postcode Lottery we've been able to realise more of those ideas this year.”
With players' help this year, WWT have built a new, fully-accessible viewing platform over the otter enclosure at their Washington Wetland Centre. It also provides wheelchair users with an equal viewpoint. It's loved by photographers and it can accommodate a whole school class when it comes to feeding time.
The charity has also been able to create more hides to encourage kids and novices of all ages to learn about nature. These 'discovery' hides look out over the wild reserves but have been designed and furnished to make them welcoming to anyone who's new to wildlife. They are light and airy with large windows. Inside there are simple guides to explain the different wildlife you might see and free binoculars and telescopes for everyone to use. Next month, WWT opens a new discovery hide at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre in Lancashire.