Aberdeen City Woodlands In and Around Town
Aberdeen City Woodlands In and Around Town Project Update December 2010
This project has been supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Forestry Commission Scotland.
Following the appointment of Stephen Bly to the post of Woodland Community Ranger and his taking up the position at the beginning of October 2009 we have made good progress with the implementation of the Aberdeen City Woodlands In and Around Town project to date.
Stephen has made contact and worked with a range of organisations within the targeted communities near woodland areas. He has engaged with these groups to encourage their use and involvement in the woodland areas and other areas within their communities as a stepping stones to using the woodlands. This has included a wide age range from pre-school to adult. This has included a number of 'Forest School Programmes' with schools using some of the woodland areas on a regular basis for outdoor learning. Some of the teachers involved have also attended a training programme with the Forestry Education Initiative to learn skills and build confidence to use woodland areas for outdoor learning without the need for Ranger or other external staff input. Stephen contributed a workshop to this programme. As a result some of the teachers involved have started to use the woodlands on their doorsteps without input from the Ranger Service making their outdoor learning much more sustainable.
As a part of this Forest School development work Stephen has mentored a local unemployed new graduate, Soozy, who is undertaking the level 3 Forest School Leader Training. Recently Soozy was successful in getting a part time job with the Aberdeen Play Forum where she is working to promote active play in the outdoors including using some of the local woodland areas. She is now working with Stephen to identify opportunities for this.
The partnership working with the Criminal Justice Service both in terms of the Bridges Project and Community Service Order Team has proved very successful for all the partners. The work Stephen has done with the Bridges Project to deliver John Muir Awards with prisoners in HMP Craiginches prior to and continuing after release has seen a retention of clients on the programme at far higher rates than any other programme previously run for this client group in the jail. Some of the clients have continued to work with Stephen and other community groups after their release from prison helping to work on local community based projects and reducing their rate of repeat offending.
Work with the Community Service Order Team to deliver more meaningful and useful work with an element of training has also been very successful with clients completing their Orders in less time than previously, often in half the time due to higher rates of attendance. The clients have benefited from learning skills in terms of land management for nature conservation, developing community wildlife areas and tree planting and maintenance with some having the opportunity to learn to use strimmers and mowers as well as a range of hand tools.
Recently the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill MSP visited one of the sessions with the Community Service Order team led by Stephen. This was covered with a short piece on the local TV news. This approach to working with clients on Community Service Order has been recognised at a high level as an example of good practice in delivering the Scottish Governments requirement to make the Orders more meaningful and to include elements of training to help the clients move away from crime.
Stephen has a regular weekly programme on the local community radio station SHMU FM every Wednesday morning. Each week he invites guests from some of the projects he is working with to talk about what they are doing or to promote things coming up. This has also given opportunities for some of the clients to learn how to use the equipment in the radio station for live broadcasts. You can also listen on line at www.shmu.org.uk
Work on developing the NHS Health Walks is progressing with the artwork for the map packs almost finished. Work is going on to promote the concept and raise awareness with health professionals through various contacts and the Grampian Public Health Forum.
For more information on the Heritage Lottery Fund visit www.hlf.org.uk
Back to the Country Parks/Countryside Ranger Service home page.