Access to Nature programme funds 29 new projects in England’s towns and cities

Thanks to 5.8m of new grants from the Access to Nature programme, thousands of people in towns and cities all over England will have the chance to improve green spaces in their area and get closer to nature on their doorsteps. The 29 new projects will work at the heart of communities to provide a host of volunteering opportunities, conservation training, events and group activities, as well as the improvement of often under-used and derelict land in our inner cities.

Access to Nature programme is funded through the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme and is run by Natural England, leading a consortium of 11 other organisations who have helped shape and develop the programme.

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: 'These projects will help thousands of people across the country, particularly those in our towns and cities, to get outside and enjoy nature and the environment around them. They are great examples of what the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces funding programme is all about and we’re very pleased to be able to support them.'

Examples of some of the projects funded by the programme are described below. A full list can be found on or Access to Nature pages.

Urban Explorers will work with families in parts of Coventry, developing a programme to get people more involved with nature-focused events and activities including: Urban Explorer Club – daytime clubs based in local parks and green spaces; Taster Events - aimed at wider community involvement, run throughout the year; Holiday Explorer Roadshows – nature themed activities during the school holidays.

The Gateway to Urban Nature Project will focus on two areas in Bolton - Leverhulme Park and Haslam – and provide opportunities for residents to get involved in the creation, enhancement and long-term management of two important, but under-used pieces of green space, involving local communities from the outset in the development and use of the spaces.

Walk on the Wildside (WOW!) operates in a diverse inner city area of Nottingham and brings together different faith, ethnic and interest groups within the community on guided walks, talks, trips, organised activities and volunteer work parties. It will also enable over 2000 children from five primary schools to visit local woodland and take part in environmental learning activities.

Get out there! in Hammersmith will train adults from disadvantaged backgrounds in environmental management. It will provide a pathway for those who want to go on to further training as well as helping to develop social skills and confidence alongside practical skills. The project will also work with local families, getting them involved through a programme of visits that reflects seasonal changes.

Access to Nature in Leeds is a three-year project working with volunteers to create welcoming, well managed, wildlife rich sites across Leeds. It will provide a programme of opportunities for volunteering, environmental and conservation skills training, education and natural play, walks and wildlife gardening. As a result around 20,000 people will be able to access and enjoy nature, particularly in less advantaged areas of the city.

Nature walks in Hyndburn will help people living in deprived areas of Hyndburn get more involved with nature through participation in expert-led nature walks and conservation activities and training events. The walks will introduce people to footpaths starting near their home and taking them through green corridors to visit biological heritage sites. An annual Nature Walks festival will be created with community groups central to designing the walks to ensure they fit with their needs.

Wild about St Werburghs is based out of a city farm in Bristol and across a number of other wildlife sites will bring the area alive with wild walks and natural treasure trails. Activities will include; ‘play out’ days for children and families, including shelter building and traditional countryside crafts; inter-generational celebration and festival days; site-specific plays that explore the local environment and hands-on educational visits by schools, youth and community groups.

Blue Loop Community Project aims to get more local people enjoying and caring about the River Don and Tinsley Canal in Sheffield, known as the ‘Blue Loop’. It will develop a regular programme of volunteer days carrying out practical habitat management tasks alongside a varied programme of recreational and educational activities for local residents working with local community groups. This will be supported by a range of training courses in skills which will enable volunteers to participate in habitat management tasks both during and after the end of the project.

Change of Scene will encourage 13–19 year olds from four deprived Northampton estates to develop an appreciation of the natural environment. It will create opportunities that include nature photography and art and non-competitive outdoor sports such as walking and hill-walking, canoeing, cycling and mountain biking and rock climbing. Participants will also be encouraged to work towards qualifications in both outdoor pursuits and leadership skills.

Creating a Living Landscape in Hull aims to dramatically increase active community engagement in wild space within some of the most deprived wards in the region. The Hull Green Corridors are one of a series of Living Landscapes which link together across the UK. The project will target key wildlife sites and Wards for access and biodiversity improvements through an events and volunteering programme to encourage active participation from all ages and groups to help re-connecting urban and rural areas.

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