20,000 people and counting visit Skelton Grange Environment Centre

Staff and volunteers at Skelton Grange Environment Centre have given 20,000 people from across Leeds and Yorkshire Access to Nature since April 2010.

Skelton Grange 1Skelton Grange Environment Centre in South Leeds is celebrating the fact that it has received well over 20,000 visitors to the centre since 2010 as part of the Big Lottery’s Changing Spaces programme. Access to Nature is an exciting project that works with volunteers to create welcoming, well managed, wildlife rich sites across Leeds. 20,000 have accessed and enjoyed nature, in this less advantaged area of the city and the good news doesn’t stop there. The whole project is designed to be sustainable and stretch far on into the future, encouraging wildlife and increasing species diversity for the benefit of everyone.

“Here children learn in a relaxed and fun environment, away from the pressures of the classroom, surrounded by enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff (and volunteers) who clearly love their jobs. The children are outside as much as possible, learning through games and hands-on activities in small groups…It is lovely to see the wonder in their faces when they find a mini beast under a log, a pond creature or an intricate bird’s nest. So many children live highly structured, enclosed lives in a man-made environment with little access to the natural world and therefore places like Skelton Grange are vital for nurturing a child’s innate empathy with nature.” Marjorie Middleton, Volunteer Officer at Skelton Grange Environment Centre

The Conservation Volunteers (formerly BTCV), the charity behind Skelton Grange, have been reclaiming green places for the benefit of local communities since 1959. Through environmental conservation projects and a network of 2,000 community groups, The Conservation Volunteers have helped hundreds of thousands of people across the UK to take responsibility for their local green places.

“The Conservation Volunteers are the unsung heroes of the environment …no one will protect what they do not first care about” Sir David Attenborough, Vice-President, The Conservation Volunteers

Skelton Grange 2The Conservation Volunteers aim to create a more sustainable future in Leeds by inspiring people and improving places, creating a better environment where people are valued, included and involved. The Access to Nature funding from Natural England has helped volunteers to develop a once neglected site into a wildlife haven with a variety of habitats including woodlands, ponds, meadows, hedgerows and also a food growing area. This space is then available as a resource for schools and other community groups to come along and interact with and it is also a training space for volunteers looking to gain employment skills, regain their physical and mental health, be socially included or simply to make a positive contribution to their local community and environment.

“Skelton Grange was wholly instrumental in my gaining employment through my volunteering time there. It’s so much more than just a place for teaching kids…I learned so much as an adult that helped me to achieve a successful career change in my mid 40’s. Now a countryside ranger, (my dream job!), I have no qualms in saying that I wouldn’t have gained the skills I needed and use daily in my position, without all the help and training I received at Skelton…I hope Skelton continues to run for many, many years to come.” Steve Clavering, Countryside Ranger for Leeds City Council.

The Conservation Volunteers at Skelton Grange would like to thank its team of volunteers for all the hard work they have put into the project and would like to invite many more people to come and get involved in the centre. By attending a training course, joining in as a volunteer, booking a child onto a Bushcraft event or simply making a donation, people can help ensure that the centre continues to provide this much valued service and amazing green space to people from across Leeds and Yorkshire.

If you want to join in with Skelton Grange Environment Centre or find out how else you can support the project, visit www.tcv.org.uk/skeltongrange or www.facebook.com/SkeltonGrangeEnvironmentCentre