Green scheme targets lockdown blues in south London

Families in south London will be able to banish the lockdown blues and get close to nature as an outdoor learning and conservation project launches across south London.

The environmental and educational charity Nature Vibezzz is expanding its Forest School programme in Lambeth and launching it in Greenwich, Southwark, Croydon and Bromley.

The scheme gives families and children the chance to improve green spaces while getting involved in activities such as tree planting, bushcraft, fire-making, and growing, cooking and eating their own food.

It is being funded by a £30,000 grant from City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson said:

“After months of lockdown, I’m sure many of us have a new-found appreciation of the great outdoors and as the weather starts to warm up can’t wait to get out in the fresh air and to reconnect with nature.

“This scheme will not only have health benefits for hundreds of families but will also help to improve green spaces and to foster a feeling of pride in the local environment among communities across south London.”

Dulwich-based Nature Vibezzz has had to suspend most of its outdoor activities during lockdown but will gradually resume them as Covid restrictions are eased.

Forest School activities take place in parks and woodland and also help to improve under-used green spaces in housing estates.

Nature Vibezzz Chairman Eric Mbiada said:

“A lot of the young people we work with live in flats, are not comfortable with nature and to start with don’t want to get their hands in the soil. After two or three sessions, that completely changes and we see a real improvement in their confidence and self-esteem.

“They start to feel a sense of ownership of the green spaces they’re working on, develop a curiosity about things like where their food comes from, and it has a knock-on effect on their academic achievement.”

More information about Nature Vibezzz is online at www.naturevibezzz.org

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

Case study

Cameron Cornwall, aged nine, from Knight’s Hill Wood, West Norwood, loves being outdoors with his family. He started attending the Knight’s Hill Wood Regeneration project when it began in 2018. Most of the sessions he attended with his mother and younger brother.

During his first sessions Cameron enjoyed looking for bugs and digging out stones of different forms and shapes, which he described as ‘valuable treasures’.

Over the years Cameron became more confident with his peers eventually taking a leadership role amongst them, introducing the new young participants to the project activities such as being aware of planted areas and reinforcing tool safety.

He also became more aware of looking after the natural environment through regularly clearing up the woods from litter and, when helping plant the native trees hedge on the site, became more and more concerned and vocal about the amount of plastic found buried.

Cameron’s mum, Sally Richard, said: “This has become a regular topic of conversation in the family and Cameron now encourages us not to use single-use plastic bags when we’re shopping – to the point where we have to provide him with litter picking equipment to take with us when we go out in nature, ready to intervene!”

Picture captions

- Cameron Cornwall, aged nine, has been involved in the Knight’s Hill Wood regeneration project since it launched in 2018

- City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

The City Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, has allocated £15.5 million to the London Community Response, set up to help charities deal with the impact of coronavirus, and has also given over £1.7 million in one-off grants to 202 organisations it already supports to help them offset lost income resulting from the pandemic.

The London Community Response Fund is administered by City Bridge Trust, the funding arm of Bridge House Estates. The City of London Corporation is the sole trustee of Bridge House Estates and Members of its Court of Common Council form the City Bridge Trust Committee, responsible for taking grant and funding decisions for the charity.

Tim Fletcher | Media officer – public services

City of London Corporation

07738 862229 | tim.fletcher@cityoflondon.gov.uk