Pupils from Stockbridge Village's St.Albert's Catholic Primary School have led the way in The Mersey Forest's Access to Nature project to help communities in Knowsley and Liverpool to re-connect with their woodlands and green spaces.
The Year 6 pupils have gained huge enjoyment from their eight-week introduction to Forest School, an approach that involves regular outdoor lessons in woodland environments, shown to increase children's self-esteem and confidence. The sessions at Croxteth Country Park included shelter building, making woodland jewelry and woodland cooking. As a grand finale the children invited their families to a celebration day where they taught their parents and grandparents the new skills that they had learned.
The project has also enabled two staff members to be trained as Forest School Leaders so that they can run now their own sessions with even more classes.
Meanwhile, work with Cycling Projects UK around the local area has created a diverse group of enthusiastic local people who are now going out on regular rides discovering routes through their local woodland they never knew were there. The project is also funding local volunteers to undertake 'Ride Leader Training' and maintenance training, enabling the group to become self-reliant long term.
The Mersey Forest's Access to Nature project also works in St.Helens, and across the two target areas of south St.Helens (see map) and Knowsley/Liverpool (see map), Access to Nature has so far connected 562 people with nature on their doorstep, more than half of whom have been introduced to their local woodland for the first time, with more than 100 of these people now becoming regular users of the area's green spaces.
Access to Nature is a national scheme run by Natural England and funded by the Big Lottery Fund, delivered locally by The Mersey Forest.