Wycombe – Local Area Forum funded projects 2018-19

by | Jul 31, 2019 |

Chiltern Rangers engaged with 385 young people and 103 adult volunteers who contributed 933 hours of volunteering on 12 sites in High Wycombe. We worked with 10 community groups representing a wide spectrum of Wycombe’s diverse population: Highworth Primary School, Castlefield Primary School, Chiltern Wood Special School, HighCrest Academy, Barnado’s Article 12 CAMHS Youth Group, Wycombe Mind, Karima Scouts, Wycombe Arts Centre, Wycombe High School Students & Chiltern Rangers Mega Monday and Green Thursday Volunteer Groups.
We are grateful for the support of all of the community groups, funders and landowners and all of the volunteers and groups who joined in. We had 16 community sessions with larger community sessions on the river at Kingsmead and Wye Dene and more work with Highworth School in particular.  Our thanks goes out to Wycombe District Council, Thames Water, Highworth School and Heart of Bucks #I will.

Kingsmead Park Art Installation, River Clean and Native Hedgerow Maintenance

In June 2019 students from Wycombe High, Article 12 CAMHS Youth Group, Wycombe Arts Centre and Green Thursday friends all worked together to continue our ongoing work to enhance one of Wycombe’s most special parks with the Wye running through it.

See further information about this session at #Iwill project

Harlow House Wildlife Garden Project

Harlow House is Wycombe’s CAMHS day hospital helping some of the most vulnerable young people in our district. Young people from their Article 12 Youth group helped the Chiltern Rangers Team all the way through the project from feeding in all their ideas for the design of the garden to building it throughout five days of hard work ending with a party to celebrate.

We consulted 6 Young People, many staff and 2 families who input directly into the design through our outreach meeting at their Youth Groups and design sessions on site.

Throughout the five days of building, young people from the Article 12 Youth Group, one of our Chiltern Rangers young people who came every day and older volunteers and staff made it a positive multi-generational experience.

In addition, at the two other events with Article 12, we cleared 18 bags of rubbish and removed 200 square meters of invasive vegetation from the River by the Fire Station and Wycombe Swan with the help of the Fire Brigade and planted a Willow hedge at Funges Meadow Nature Reserve as well as maintaining the Harlow House Garden for the Winter.

Overall we had 33 young people sessions, 20 adult sessions contributing to 182 hours of volunteering on the project.

One of the young person patients wanted us to know how going into the garden and playing noughts and crosses greatly helped reduce her anxiety prior to her first counselling session. We are looking for funding at present to replicate this success by building a garden at the Sue Nicholls Centre CAMHS unit in Aylesbury.

Chiltern Wood Special School Stepping Stones to Work Experience Project

We gained additional funding enabling us to increase the number of sessions from two to four working with eight Chiltern Wood Secondary Aged Students with very complex needs supported by three staff and a Chiltern Ranger with considerable experience of working with Special Needs Students. The students have:

  • Built and put up arty bird boxes developing carpentry and art skills
  • Were introduced to Chairborough Local Nature Reserve through bug hunting
  • Learned to use saws and loppers to cut down scrub safely creating scallop clearings Chairborough contributing to the mosaic of different habitats that is needed there
  • Begun to learn to build small and larger fires having great fun toasting marshmallows in small fire baskets and burning the scrub they cut with a large conservation fire.

We gained funding from TESCO to continue the project with eight more sessions giving students, who take a long time to learn and build resilience, opportunities to embed their learning and further build their esteem.

Funding from the Rothschild Foundation has enabled us to give these students supported work experience and self-esteem building sessions working together from time to time too. Two students from Chiltern Wood School did their first ever unsupported work experience day this November, this is a first for Chiltern Wood School and ground breaking for them. It took two years of incremental learning and confidence building for the students to achieve this. These students did so well that they have been awarded Work Experience Student of the Year. At the end of the session the students asked when they were coming out to work again!  We hope to take this model out to other special schools in Bucks, there is a great need but finding funding is a challenge.

Castlefield Community Engagement Project with Karima Scouts

The aim of the project was to continue our ongoing work to engage with the local community over time to reduce the damage done to the local woodlands creating a sense of ownership of their local environment.  We ran two engagement events in October 2019 :

75 pupils and staff of Castlefield School collected 55 bags of rubbish and followed up their work with posters, letters to Councillors and a Bucks Free Press article sent by the school bringing their learning about the environment alive.

We worked with over 40 young people to develop a base camp log circle clearing at Desborough Castle in Castlefield that they will be using regularly to introduce their young people to enjoying the woods in a responsible way.  The children, young people and adults also coppiced an area of 250 square metres and built 45 metres of dead hedge. 

Highworth School

We have developed a close partnership with the school through this project with a £10,000 large school pond development project coming up as a legacy to this project. Ponds are a priority habitat for the UK with so many having been lost in the past century. We are working with pupils to transform their huge grounds. Half of one of the school fields is being converted to meadow and we have planted a mini orchard in a special garden. Children have also been junior rangers learning to use tools safely to cut down holly that has been taking over areas of AXA Kingswood.

Sue’s Garden

Highworth School meadow

Wycombe Mind Well Being Walks

The funding helped to continue partnership working with both a Chiltern Ranger and Wycombe Mind Officer hosting Well Being Walks in Wycombe ending with a picnic in a special spot.