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How Wildlife Trust youth rangers have been aiding Cambridgeshire care home





Caroline Fitton, of the Wildlife Trust in Cambridgeshire, writes for the Cambridge Independent about the work of rangers and what the trust wants to see from COP26.

Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust
Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust

Helping hands for young and old

During pandemic lockdowns, care homes came into sharp focus as being places experiencing deprivation – residents being deprived of outside contact, with family visits no longer a possibility. Teenagers too keenly felt the impact of societal restrictions, not being able to mix with peers or lead full active lives resulting in high levels of frustration.

In recent months Wildlife Trust youth ranger schemes have swung back into action, starting on a variety of community projects which are having a tangibly proactive impact on the communities where they are active - and on the rangers themselves.

Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust (52535859)
Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust (52535859)

One of these is a group based at the trust’s Paxton Pits Environmental Centre, who have been helping refresh and brighten the garden at a local care home over the last few months.

The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots were very enthusiastic about the idea for the benefit of their residents.

Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust (52535862)
Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust (52535862)

For the rangers, especially in the shadow of Covid, this work has felt more important than ever with the opportunity to make a difference, when so many other things have happened beyond and outside their control.

Not being able to talk to the residents, it was important to gauge their views, to hear and understand their memories of wild places and the natural world, so a questionnaire for was used to develop ideas for the garden. One thing that nearly all residents requested were daffodils and spring bulbs, so plenty of daffs, tulips, alliums and crocuses have now all been planted.

Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust (52535864)
Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust (52535864)

The young rangers have done monthly sessions since May and showed huge enthusiasm for the work.

Ranger Adam Gray says: “I am loving doing this project and hope it will really help the environment for our wildlife as well as helping the resident’s happiness and mood, both important jobs!”

Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust (52535857)
Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust (52535857)

The rangers looked at resources for wildlife gardening; they tested the soil and knew the soil structure needed improving, so charcoal sweepings (from a trust charcoal burner at Grafham) and seaweed were mixed into a paste when planting to enrich the soil.

They have made a bug hotel, conducted litter picks, planted ox eye daises into the grass, thyme and other herbs and pot marigolds for nectar.

Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust (52535866)
Wildlife Trust youth rangers working at The Anchor Nelson Care Lodge in St Neots. Picture: Wildlife Trust (52535866)

They have cleaned and revamped a bird feeding station, planted hollyhocks and cosmos for bees and butterflies, painted up a reclaimed sundial and started on carpentry to produce hedgehog highways.

Debbie McKenzie, communities and wildlife manager at Paxton Pits Environmental Education Centre, says: “The young rangers have learnt much about the residents' needs and incorporated them; they love see the residents waving while they work on the garden and look forward to hopefully being able to meet them in person one day. In the meantime, we hope to bring plenty more wildlife and colour into their lives, and more wildlife into their grounds.”

What the Wildlife Trust wants to see from COP26

With COP26 kicking off (it runs from October 31-November 12) the nation watches, waits and expects... will the chance to tackle the climate and nature crises be fully grasped? With climate change already contributing to nature's decline, the loss of wildlife and habitats leaves us ill-equipped to reduce emissions and adapt to change. Global leaders must take a stand and embed climate action and nature's recovery across their policies, so at COP26 the Wildlife Trust would like to see:

  • A set of national policies from all countries to keep 1.5C within reach - critical to protecting the UK’s natural environment from irreversible and catastrophic change.
  • Firm leadership - the UK must lead the way at COP26 and demonstrate the right approach at home. Government is currently not on track to adapt to climate change, or to achieve net zero emissions, yet the UK has to play its fair and historic share in tackling climate change that it is responsible for, and supporting developing nations cope with the effects of climate change that they have little historic responsibility for.
  • Agreement on finance - nations should agree to invest in high quality nature-based solutions (eg peatland restoration such as our projects at the Great Fen) developed in partnership with local communities to help mitigate against, and adapt to, climate change on a global scale.

Visit wildlifebcn.org/take-action/cop26 for more and wildlifebcn.org/things-you-can-do-about-climate-change to find out what you can do.

Have a Wild 2022

The Wildlife Trust BCN 2022 calendar (52535843)
The Wildlife Trust BCN 2022 calendar (52535843)

Along with sustainable toys and products, the 2022 Wildlife calendar is now on sale online, with images selected from the trust's photo competition. By choosing local, wildlife themed, sustainable, quality products all proceeds benefit nature and communities: making the decision to Christmas shop with the Wildlife Trust shows support for nature and the environment.

Visit https://shop.wildlifebcn.org.

The Wildlife Trust BCN 2022 calendar (52535847)
The Wildlife Trust BCN 2022 calendar (52535847)

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