My Week at Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

Acacia recently joined us on ‘work experience’ for a week. She had a busy week and kept a note of the things she got up to…

Monday

I arrived at the Millennium Trust at 9:00am and was shown around the offices by Shona. She explained to me what each part of the organisation did and how it worked. Everyone was very welcoming and I was able to get a real feel for how the organisation worked.

Later me, and three others from YDMT, went to a Radio Training day in Settle- I wasn’t quite sure what to expect! We were in a side room at the Royal Oak in Settle, and Simon Rogers was there to tell us about Dales Radio (for which he is a presenter) and to demonstrate some basics in interviewing, recording and editing. After listening to some tips on interviewing, we came up with a question in smaller groups and then went out in to Settle to record our vox-pops (opinions as represented through comments from the public which are often broadcast). It was a fun way of utilising the skills that we had learnt in the morning and interesting to hear different opinions on the issues that we had chosen.

In the afternoon, we began to experiment with the editing software (with varying degrees of success!) It was a complex skill that took a lot of attention to detail and precision, but after playing around for a while, it was satisfying to see our editing beginning to work. It’s certainly a skill that requires some practice though! By the end of the day we had all had a go at editing and I’d had a fun and absorbing day learning about Dales Radio.

At the end of the day Judy and I drove back to Clapham to pick up some outdoor wear for the following day.

Tuesday

I arrived at YDMT for Sarah to tell me about the online element of the organisation. She showed me the blog, the website and the social media, then demonstrated how lots of these elements were created. It was really interesting to see the work that went in to this side of the organisation and meant that I learnt a lot about the methods involved in maintaining a successful internet presence for an organisation.

Then Judy and I set off to meet a group of refugees in Horton. Our activity for the day was dry-stone walling, near Selside. On arrival, we got some food and drink ready in preparation for the arrival of the Refugee group that was coming from Blackburn. Once they had arrived and been kitted out with various items of outdoor wear, we all congregated inside to introduce ourselves and for each of the group to tell us where they were originally from. It was a diverse group with people from Iraq, Syria, Germany, Nigeria and South Korea.

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After this, we went out in to the cold wind to meet Colin who would demonstrate to us how the dry-stone walling was done. Lots of the group were raring to go and were soon at work collecting rocks to place on the crumbled section of wall. People in the group seemed to relish in the hard work, as many of them are unable to work because of their status as asylum seekers rather than refugees. In the morning, I was also persuaded to my try my new interviewing skills and interviewed John, who works with refugees and asylum seekers and had brought the group over to us that morning.

After a morning of hard work, we went in the warmth for lunch, where we learnt about the groups’ professions. One worked in I.T., another had been a policeman, one had been a fisherman. Again, it was great to see the diversity of the group and learn a little more about their lives. In the afternoon, we set to work again, making quick progress on the wall (with lots of input from Colin), one man powering through the afternoon despite being on Ramadan! It was such a lovely way of working hard together and learning more about each other as the day went on.

group wallThe group standing in front of their newly built wall

At the end of the day, John had the idea to get the group together and ask each person how the day had been and how they feeling. It was so lovely to hear how happy everyone was and how nice the day had been for them. Learning about some of those people and the countries that they came from was really lovely- it was a great day!

Wednesday

On Wednesday I met Judy in Malham, where we were going to meet a Roma group of women and children. Firstly, we had to go up to the Tarn Centre to set up some activities- it was a sunny day so there would be lots of opportunities to be outside enjoying the beautiful scenery around Malham Tarn.

malham

We met the group at around 11:30 and drove straight up to Malham to begin our adventure. We started with the boardwalk, where Judy helped the group to spot flowers and animals and to identify them. The children were so engaged in what Judy had to say and soon became experts at spotting the animals or flowers that had been mentioned. We carried on walking up to the Field Centre, pausing to have a look in the bird hide and then again to have lunch near the Tarn.

After lunch we walked up to the Field Centre in to the woodland where we had set a bug activity for the children to do. They had to walk along a string in the woodland spotting as many of the hidden bugs as possible, again everyone was really engaged and enjoyed the task. After this, we again went in to the woodlands- this time to look for sticks so that the children could make a mini raft with the help of the adults. After trying these out on the tarn it was clear that some builds had been much more successful than others- however some of them had worked brilliantly much to the happiness of the children, who were having great time down cooling off a bit by paddling in the lake. After this it was time to say goodbye to this group, and it was great to wave them off with smiles on their faces- they had obviously had a fantastic day out!

Thursday

Today was another day at Malham Tarn. This time we were expecting a group of Asian women and children coming from Bradford. Again we went up to the Tarn to set up the Bug adventure activity and the drove back down to Malham Car Park to meet the group. We set out the boots and coats that we had collected from the centre the day before and when the group arrived, some were kitted out in a colourful assortment of outdoor wear due to the unexpected chilly wind. We then set off back to the Tarn to retrace our steps of the day before around the boardwalk. Again some of the children were able to spot some animals and flowers and Judy explained about some of the unique flowers that we were seeing on our walk. On this walk, I was able to learn about the organisation that had helped to organise this outing for the group. It was really interesting for me to hear about what they did and what they were striving to achieve, and so lovely to be part of the group’s day out.

Again we walked together up to a spot near the lake to eat lunch. It was a good opportunity to speak together, learn more about each other’s lives- the group was made up by a great mix of people, lots of them refugees or asylum seekers- and even to share some delicious food with each other. After lunch we walked all the way up to the Field Centre and our activity was to make necklaces for the children. Judy demonstrated how to do this so we split off in to pairs and we made some lovely necklaces! Then the children were able to create some beautiful bookmarks by picking some small flowers and sticking these to a piece of card. It was great to see their creativity and the pretty works of art at the end.

We then walked over to the wood to do the Bug hunt again with this group; the children did really well at spotting lots of the animals! Once we had walked through the woodland a couple of times to spot as many of the bugs as possible, we made our way back to the field to play with the parachute- a favourite with lots of the children. This meant that the day ended with lots of laughing and giggling, a good chance for the children to run around and have lots of fun before their journey back. After a snack, it was time to say goodbye to the group. They had been such a lovely, bubbly group of people and this meant that we had all had a great, fun day together.

Friday

All I knew about it, was that it was Woodland Open Day for YDMT. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this day, but was excited to see more of the work that YDMT does. In the morning I arrived at the Millennium Trust and got a lift with some people from YDMT, one was a trustee who had been with the organisation since its beginning and been going to these Woodland Open Days for nearly twenty years!

We arrived at the site and I could see a large expanse of the landscape had been planted with trees. I found out that over 20 000 trees had been planted here and that lots of the people visiting had dedicated trees to others, or had them dedicated to themselves. It was surprisingly cold and windy in this spot, and so putting up the gazebo proved quite a difficult task! But soon, the gazebo was looking lovely with lots of YDMT merchandise making it very colourful. It was very chilly, so once some jobs had been allocated, some of us decided to go and explore the site and see the extent of the woodland. It was a beautiful spot and great to imagine how amazing it will be when the trees planted have grown.

The day was quiet, possibly due to the dull weather, but it was interesting to meet some of the people who had dedicated/been dedicated trees and hear their stories about why they had. One couple had trees dedicated to them for presents and had driven up specially to see this sight; another lady had been dedicated a tree by Betty’s for her retirement. Despite the cold and wind, it was an enjoyable day, good to see the brilliant work that YDMT do and meet some of the people who really appreciate this work.

Overall, I had a fantastic week at YDMT. I loved how varied it was and that I was able to be outside for the majority of the week (a lovely difference from being inside at school all day). Meeting new people and learning about their lives was my favourite aspect of the week, it was great experience and made it clear to me that the work they do is fantastic and that I would love to do work similar to some of their projects- projects that I can see have a really positive impact on people’s lives. Even on the days when I wasn’t working on The People and The Dales project, it was great to see what YDMT workers get up to and lots of the exciting projects that they are part of.

 

Schools Out

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn update from Anthea Hanson, our Schools Out education officer who is enjoying a busy time sharing the delights of the Inlgeborough area with local primary school groups:

Schools Out has had a wonderful Spring, welcoming many of the younger children from the Stories in Stone area to farms near Selside and Settle. Children have seen lambs being born, found out what cows eat in winter and made their own tasty sausages!  

Over the last year, the Schools Out programme has been delighting local schools with an ever increasing range of opportunities to get outside the classroom and engage in the beautiful and fascinating area that they live in.

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Pupils have been archaeologists, Roman soldiers, botanists, zoologists, cavers, walkers, felters, farmers, construction workers, conservationists, and of course they have been allowed to have fun and just be children!

Ingleton school recently visited Ingleborough Cave exploring both below ground and above. They heard the ancient stories of the rocks that make up our unique landscape. Now fascinated by small pieces of limestone, their parents will have to check pockets for this ancient rock before it rattles around in their washing machines!

map

Clapham and Horton-in-Ribblesdale schools joined forces and through fun and games learnt to find their way around using maps. They became quite expert at interpreting the features and could probably teach the adults a thing or two!

Further afield we have been delighted to link with a school from Lancashire and coming soon a large Bradford school. Pupils will be able to showcase their wonderful environment and find out the similarities and differences of countryside and city living.

This work is part of Stories in Stone, a four-year programme of community and heritage projects developed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership, which is led by YDMT and mainly funded by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Thanks to this support, primary school pupils have been able to access all of these opportunities travelling by bus, train and by foot. I’m looking forward to facilitating more work outside the class room in the future. Watch this space!

Green Guardians learn the art of bushcraft

Sarah our Green Guardians Project Officer talks about her Easter adventures in bushcraft.

Green Guardians is all about getting young people outside to make connections to nature. Bushcraft can be a great way to do this. There’s something about spending time in the woods and sitting round a fire fettling that really brings people together.

Green guardians groups learn the art of bushcraft

Sorting sticks for the first bushcraft challenge!

I had a great couple of days out in the first week of the Easter holidays with two youth groups – Oxenhope Youth and Skipton Young Carers doing bushcraft activities. We were based up at Malham Tarn Field Centre and whilst the weather was somewhat bleak, spirits were high.

Each day began with an orienteering type quiz to collect items needed for the bushcraft session. This gave the young people time to explore the beautiful location on their own. They also found out a bit about what goes on at Malham Tarn and how the Field Studies Council work to benefit the environment.

Fire lighting challenge

Bushcraft began! Not surprisingly we started by collecting a lot of sticks and sorted them into size order, followed by a demonstration on how to light a fire without matches. The young people were then challenged to light their own fires. Given the rather wet weather, this was a pretty tricky task! But both groups succeeded without help and we made hot chocolate on the Kelly kettle to celebrate & warm up.

Green Guardians groups learn fire lighting and other bushcraft skills

Success in the fire lighting challenge!

Getting crafty

I’d designed the rest of the session to be quite informal with craft activities they could try on and round the fire. Some of the group decided they’d like to do some den building – which was great. When I work with young people I’m really keen to let them follow their own interests as much as possible. So long as it’s safe is my motto!

The group took part in some craft activities including:

  • making little clay creatures to bake in the fire
  • making charcoal to draw with and take home
  • making stick people from wire and Elder twigs
  • Pewter casting

Our favourite activity was pewter casting which produced some lovely results that the young people could take home.

Green Guardians groups learn pewter casting

Pewter casting – our favourite fireside craft activity.

Connecting with nature
The day concluded with a bit of reflection around the fire – with toasted marshmallows of course!

My favourite comments from the day were:

“That is was one of the best times I’ve had in a long time . It was just great to get outdoors and learning life saving skills and stuff.”

“That it’s a great way to re-connect with nature when you feel you are always stuck inside and want to have fun outdoors. Great time!”

Big thanks to all the young people for their enthusiasm and to the support staff who came along and to Malham Tarn Field Centre for letting us use their grounds (and come inside for lunch on the coldest day!).

Green Guardians is part of the YDMT’s Green Futures programme part of Our Bright Future, a £33 million programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by a consortium of eight organisations which is led by The Wildlife Trusts. To find out more about Green Guardians visit our website.

YDMT Ambassador wins Gold!

We were delighted to hear that Chris Myers, our Ambassador and award-winning garden designer, struck gold once again with his latest leafy masterpiece at the RHS Cardiff Flower Show at the weekend… and scooped the highly prized award for Best Show Garden!

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Chris’ pretty woodland and water garden tells the Welsh mythical story of Blodeuwedd, whilst drawing subtle inspiration from closer to home – the Yorkshire Dales, where Chris lives and works.

The woodland setting and wild flower planting was inspired by the woods seen by Chris around his home; specifically the Laund Oak woodland on the Bolton Abbey Estate which he passes most days, and which incidentally is one of YDMT’s supporter woods (you can read more here).

Chris said: “I love to see the way nature is working with the trees planted and forming a woodland. The beauty of nature, and the Yorkshire Dales in particular, is a real inspiration to me, making it a pleasure to be a YDMT Ambassador.”

The spring blooms used in the garden included our native daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) which Chris has admired in Farndale in the North York Moors, and a range of native meadow species, inspired by the wonderful wildflower hay meadows of the Yorkshire Dales.

Blodeuwedd-planting1088x612

The sculpture of Blodeuwedd as an owl was created by Michael Kusz – a sculptor living and working in Reeth in Swaledale. He cut each feather out of old copper hot water cylinders and then welded them together one at time to create the finished piece.

The Yorkshire connections continued with plants being supplied by Johnsons of Wicksley, and a living ivy screen supplied by Green Tech near Harrogate.

Huge congratulations Chris!

A Time For Welcome

Last weekend families in and around Skipton welcomed 22 refugees and asylum seekers into their homes.

Organised in partnership with Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, the Bradford Immigration & Asylum Support & Advice Network (BIASAN), the Craven Refugee Support Network and various churches in Skipton, the weekend included an action packed programme: a climb up Holy Trinity tower where the bell ringers demonstrated their art, a trip on a canal barge and an African dance and drumming workshop. The Saturday evening was filled with laughter as we danced to the Batty Moss Ceilidh band which about 80 people enjoyed, and Sunday morning saw many of our visitors share in worship in various churches throughout the town.

As food is a big part of any holiday, meals were prepared and shared together, in and by various churches, helping to form new friendships and understanding. The generosity of the people of Skipton was enormous.

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Paul Martin Emery was one of the hosts, and he has written this moving account of the weekend, which he’s kindly allowed us to share with you below…

The Visitor, a sharing by Paul Martin Emery                                                                                   

Dear Friends

This last weekend Ruth and I had the opportunity to open our home to a special visitor. Like many others our home became an open place of welcome for a refugee from a war torn country. In this case Syria and more pointedly, the city of Aleppo. At one time a beautiful city, the most populous in Syria, which served as the capital of the Aleppo Governorate.

A city now in ruins. Its heart and soul literally torn apart by the war. Its streets a maze of rubble with what counts for daily life being conducted underground.

What a glaring contrast with a simple little back bedroom, in a village called Silsden resting by the shadow of the far side of Ilkley Moor. The only rubble here being the repairing of the roadside walls after the floods of 2015. No bombs in the morning just the sweet sound of the birdsong greeting the coming day.

This visit was a learning curve in so many ways. As Friday arrival day dawned I busied myself preparing the room. Small touches. A face cloth and towels neatly arranged on a chair. Books about England and the countryside and seasons, on the bookcase. But an awareness also in myself of both anticipation, nervousness and emotion. What will this be like? How will it go? Will he feel welcome? The answer to that was his smiling response when I bid him Welcome in his native Arabic as he came up the steps to the front door.

“Ahlaan bik”   Welcome…His smile reassuring…and a simple thank you in response and as he settled into the lounge a gracious “you have a beautiful home”. A simple compliment but filled with the sense to me that at one time he had such a home. We responded by bidding him welcome again and inviting him to be at home and all we had was his too.

We sat up until midnight, our eyes heavy after such emotion of the day, talking and sharing his war experience and his journey. His voice not angry or bitter. More one of recognition that this is how it was, this is how it is. Later it struck me as I lay in bed that one hears the words of such an experience but the imagination takes much longer to register just what it was that brought this young man half way round the world to that simple little back bedroom of ours.

In truth the imagination can not recreate that all too personal experience of bombs and destruction and a boat on the high seas with water up to the knees. Nor can it do justice to the feeling that once you feel you have reached safety you find yourself in a caged compound grateful for any bit of half clean cardboard you can make a bed out off..

One simply can not put yourself in their place or fully appreciate that level of suffering or displacement. You do what you can do…you are here and you are welcome.

There were lighter moments to. Ones of simple domesticity. The choice of cereal at breakfast. The choice of jam etc on the toast. That quiet coming together over the first meal of the day. Later in the day as we sat in my recording studio, as promised a small selection of guitar tracks. What would you like me to play…The theme from the Lion King and Hotel California by the Eagles…Played with a sense of care and love. Appreciation from someone who clearly loves music and a moment of connection… Later his request that I record a music programme for him…

A simple request that spoke to me of someone feeling at home…Again an act of normal life…

Our home suddenly feeling empty after we said our goodbyes and he had left… A sense of tender sadness as I tidied away the books from his room and looked backed at the perfectly made bed. Not just a bed but a resting place in every sense of the word….

A tender and humbling experience. A weekend that touched both Ruth and I. A weekend of sharing and joy and yes at times, sadness and near tears. But more than that this was a weekend of giving and sharing from his side as much as ours. Two worlds, very different, two cultures and faiths coming together in a profound act of trust.

My thoughts in the quiet after his leaving…..

The way we open our doors, hearts and minds to the refugee is a measure of our humanity. To close the door, our hearts and our minds is to diminish ourselves and our humanity as we deny to ourselves that richness of cultural experience and opportunity of learning and sharing that the simple act of saying ….you are welcome brings into all our lives..

We sent our visitor off with a book on our landscapes and wildlife…we inscribed the inside cover with the following..

Lord…Allah…there is a terrible war in Syria and many are suffering. Please grant peace in that place. We ask you this in love and humanity…

     For our brother in humanity…

May love be your guide and peace be at your side…

His eyes moved and again that simple phrase. “Thank you”

We wish him well and as he said an Angel by his side…

Thank you to him for enriching our lives and thank you friends.

Paul IMG_5749

Highlights of 2016

We’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the many individuals, businesses and partner organisations who have supported our charitable work over the last twelve months – we couldn’t have achieved so much without you!

ThankYour

2016 got off to a flying start with the launch of several exciting new projects, including Stories in Stone; a four year programme of community and heritage projects based around the Ingleborough area. The £2.6 million scheme is mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund thanks to National Lottery players, and has already seen us deliver lots of education, outreach and training opportunities, as well as distributing around £50,000 in grants to support local initiatives.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of our work restoring wildflower hay meadows, we launched Meadow Links – a project that aims to empower communities to conserve their local wildlife. Working together we’ll create species-rich meadows and wildlife patches across the Dales and Forest of Bowland to support bumblebees, butterflies, birds and small mammals.

Hay meadows, a haven for wildlife

Green Futures also began this year, bringing opportunities for 4,000 young people aged 11-24 to connect with their local environment over five years. We’re sharing the skills and knowledge to help make real environmental improvements and raise awareness. It’s part of Our Bright Future – a movement of 31 youth-led projects across the UK, funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.

The launch of the Roger Stott Community Grant Fund was another highlight of 2016. We awarded £30,000 in small grants to community groups in and around the Yorkshire Dales to support a wide variety of local projects, including new playground equipment, village hall improvements and craft workshops to name just a few. Thanks to ongoing support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, a further £45,000 has been added to the fund, and we’re looking forward to supporting many more community projects that will make a big difference to local people.

Environmental conservation continues to be a key focus, and we’d particularly like to thank our friends at The Fuelcard Company for their vital support in this area. Working with landowners and partners including Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Forestry Commission, we have planted around 1.3 million new native trees since 1996, with several more new woodlands being planted this winter.

2017 looks set to be another exciting year, not least because we will be celebrating the Trust’s 20th birthday. We plan to mark the occasion by distributing 20 special awards to support a range of initiatives across the region – we’ll look forward to sharing details in due course.

We’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at YDMT.

 

First summit for our young green champions!

Sian is one of our Green Futures Environmental Trainees based at Cumbria Wildlife Trust. In this blog Sian tells us all about her experience at the very first Green Futures Youth Environment Summit this October.

The scheme mine and Isaac’s apprenticeship has come from is called Green Futures, a project run by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust as part of the Our Bright Future programme. Green Futures consists of four environmental youth orientated groups: Eco Schools, Young Rangers, Green Guardians and finally the Environmental Trainee Scheme that our apprenticeships come under.

This year, Green Futures, piloted their idea of a Youth Summit, through which all four branches of the Green Futures project could meet. The three day residential was held in the gorgeous setting of the field studies centre at Malham Tarn – a suitably inspiring backdrop for such an inspiring weekend!

Making bird boxes at the Green Futures Youth Environment Summit.

Sian & other young people from across the North West came together to explore environmental issues at the Green Futures Youth Environment Summit.

With an age range of 12 – 21, it would be easy to assume that activities to suit everybody were hard to come by, but as everyone had one very big shared passion no such problem occurred – in fact the weekend flew by with the amount of things we had to do! Activities included a trail around the grounds of Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre, a talk on using your own personal strengths to get involved in the environment from Grainne, who is on the national Our Bright Future steering group, making a bird box, and the ‘recycle Olympics’. On the Sunday we had a series of incredibly informative workshops on food waste, packaging waste, and water waste.

Everybody who attended was so open minded and uniquely knowledgeable, the weekend was a huge success. Having spoken to YDMT staff after they’d received the feedback forms, I learned that the only suggestion for improvement from attendees – including myself – was that the residential was longer… which is always a good sign!

Making bird boxes - one of the many activities in offer at the Youth Summit.

Making bird boxes – one of the many activities in offer at this years Youth Summit.

Green Futures

Our Green Futures project aims to empower and support the ambitious and capable young people of Yorkshire and Lancashire to become more involved, aware and connected to the fantastic natural environment that’s right on their doorstep. Find out more on our website www.ydmt.org/green-futures

You can also find out about the Our Bright Future programme Green Futures is part of here.