Making meaningful connections with Torbay's green spaces

The group visiting Westerland as part of the summer holiday activities run by Groundwork South

The group visiting Westerland as part of the summer holiday activities run by Groundwork South - Credit: Groundwork South

There are visitors at the office door from the moment the holiday club starts at 11am; each inquiry brings the same question: “Are we going on a walk today?” 

Even after setting off on the much-requested walk, the questions keep coming, ranging from ‘what’s that flower?’ to ‘can we eat those berries?’ and ‘can we paddle when we get there?’ 

Starting from Great Parks Community Centre, the collection of young people and adults snakes its way into Westerland Valley, through kissing gates and along wooded paths, across fallen trees and around - or in some cases through - muddy puddles.  

Once gathered back together on the bank of the slow-flowing stream that runs along the bottom of the valley, shoes and socks are removed and small pale feet cautiously pad into the cool water.

Nets, trays, magnifying glasses and identification charts are brought out and the task of ‘kick sampling’ begins - samples are taken from the stream bed and any small invertebrates identified, providing an indicator of water quality.

This is citizen science disguised as a fun for some, fun with a purpose for others - depending on their focus and age. 

Groundwork South has been based at the community centre in King’s Ash, Paignton for around three years.

Most Read

Over that time, the team have been involved in art projects, activity days, and other nature-themed activities; all aimed at encouraging children and young people to explore their local green space and build a connection with and understanding of their natural surroundings. 

Thanks to Groundwork UK and their Youth Accelerator Fund (YAF), this summer was no exception.  

Samples taken from the stream bed are viewed in white trays to help look for any freshwater species they may contain

Samples taken from the stream bed are viewed in white trays to help look for any freshwater species they may contain - Credit: Groundwork South

The fund made it possible for the Torbay team to run the two-week programme of activities in the summer holidays, of which the stream sampling was part.

By helping young people build meaningful connections with green spaces around them we can ensure they are able to have a say in how these important places are cared for as well as take part. 

To find out more about Torbay’s Green Spaces and for support getting young people involved please contact Hannah Worthington on 07940510616 or email hannah.worthington@groundwork.org.uk