Community by Nature, Forest Skills Project

Teaching transferable skills among the trees

For 24 years, Community by Nature (formerly Sefton Play Council) has been working with children, young people and adults in disadvantaged areas of Merseyside. They run forest school sessions, play training, community learning schemes, as well as outdoor programmes and events. Their projects give people the opportunity to have fun while exploring, learning and caring about their local environment, providing a release from typically chaotic lives.

In Bootle, Merseyside, nearly half (48%) of children live in low-income families; more than a third (35%) claim out of work benefit. We funded two Community by Nature programmes for local 16 to 19 year olds: ‘Play Work’ and ‘Forest School’.

  • 28 learners gained a recognised qualification in basic employability skills or forest school.
  • 11 young people are now undertaking volunteering, including 7 with Community by Nature.
  • 8 young people have gone on to further training – including IT training, Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and advanced John Muir Award (an environmental award scheme focused on wild places).

The play work training equipped them for roles in schools and play centres; the forest school programme led to roles working outdoors, for example with the National Trust or Forestry Commission. Both programmes delivered basic employability skills, adapting the training to suit the young people’s needs. Participants learnt key skills, including numeracy and literacy, and gained a qualification at Level 1, 2 or 3 in Play Work and/or Forest Schools.

Activities help participants build self-esteem, independence, emotional resilience, and team building skills. They included:

– Fire building for outdoor cooking
– Shelter building
– Healthy living and eating.

Our grant of £9,890 helped 32 young people take part in Community by Nature programmes.

“Our trainers formed solid professional relationships with the learners and became trusted mentors – supporting them in their learning as well as with external problems. Learners presented with huge barriers to learning – many at the furthest point from the labour market given social and emotional issues. This project has given extremely vulnerable young people the foundations in which to build on to go on to further training, employment and volunteering.”
Kate Jameson, Chief Executive, Community by Nature

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