By Charlie Bell (March 2020)
Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, three Stepping Stones Project community meetings were held across the project area in late January and early February 2020. These were organised, run and facilitated by Cath Landles (Shropshire Hills AONB) who also acted as the main point of contact for the general public. In total, over 160 people attended from a wide variety of backgrounds.
The aims of these meetings were:
- To bring together residents, farmers, landowners, community wildlife groups, statutory organisations and conservation groups, introduce them to each other and to the background, aims and objectives of the Stepping Stones project.
- Hear from local community wildlife groups and volunteers about the work they are currently doing, their planned activities for the coming year using the Stepping Stones project funding, and how people can get involved.
- To ask attendees two questions:
- What interests you/what’s important to you?
- What would you like to get involved with?
Presentations were given by Andrew Hearle, Stepping Stones Project Manager (National Trust), and Peter Carty, Countryside Manager (National Trust), which introduced the project and gave some background information.
Then several local wildlife groups gave short presentations on their work and what they hope to achieve over the coming year with the Stepping Stones project funding.
After a short break, table groups addressed the two questions above before feeding back key points to the whole room. Attendees were then invited on field visits and given the chance to sign up to the project newsletter.
Please refer to the section below to see the number of attendees at each meeting and the groups that spoke. See contact details for each organisation.
Norbury 30th January 2020
Pontesbury 10th February 2020
Several key themes common to all meetings emerged:
Verges – advice on creation and management, lobbying authorities to change verge management;
Meadows – advice on creation and management, opportunities to help with practical work;
Hedgerows – training on how to plant and lay hedges, advice on species selection, opportunities to help;
Species recording – training identification and monitoring techniques, opportunities to get involved;
Communications – the need for regular updates and an online hub where people can find out what’s going on and how to get involved;
Bigger picture – a desire to understand how individual activities fit into the wider vision for the landscape;
Education – the need to educate and engage the wider public and especially younger people.
Here are some quotes taken directly from the flipcharts where groups recorded the answers to the questions ‘What interests you/what’s important to you?’ and ‘What would you like to get involved with?’ Please click on them to enlarge.
Word clouds were created from the feedback from Questions 1 and 2. Word clouds look at the most commonly used words within a piece of text and reflect the frequency the words are used by the size of the font: the larger the font, the more frequently the word was used.
Many people expressed a wish to be kept up to date with the Stepping Stones project and the activities of the local community wildlife groups and other organisations who presented at the workshops.
A project e-newsletter is being set up, using those email addresses from the contact forms filled in during the workshops.
Events are being added to the Event Hub on the Middle Marches website – plans are being developed to have a dedicated Stepping Stones project area online.
Shropshire Dormouse Group (SDG): firstname.lastname@example.org
Marches Meadow Group (MMG): Richard Small email@example.com
Restoring Shropshire Verge’s Project (RSVP): Janet Cobb firstname.lastname@example.org
Butterfly Conservation West Midlands (BC): Stephen Lewis email@example.com
Bumblebees on the Mynd Project: Debbie Viviers firstname.lastname@example.org
Curlew and Red Grouse surveys: Leo Smith email@example.com
Middle Marches Community Land Trust (MMCLT): Lizzie Hulton Harrop firstname.lastname@example.org
Shropshire’s Community Wildlife Groups: Contact details available on the website: https://www.shropscwgs.org.uk/