Wildside Activity Centre – “Step Up for Conservation”
Awarded Black Country ESF Community Grants – £13,854.00
The project aim was to give 28 participants the opportunity to learn about volunteering, nature conservation and gain wider employment skills needed for the workplace. This would enable participants not only to move closer to the job market, but also develop the skills needed to function more effectively in society.
The projects supported the long term unemployed, females, those from BAME communities and those with mental health issues or learning difficulties.
The project successfully completed, here is one participants’ journey.
I am now in week 5 of an 8 week project volunteering at Wildside Activity Centre, helping with projects that benefit the community. Currently, another volunteer and I are making a bench from an abandoned wooden bed frame.
The bench will be placed in the woodland opposite the Centre for the public to enjoy. I’ve also helped prepare and paint the Centre, including making wooden shapes of flowers, birds and animals, painting them and mounting them around the Centre to make it look more welcoming, and litter picking in the woodland opposite. I’ve been out on a boat trip and I also help to keep the Centre grounds maintained. I’ve learnt to use the jig saw and refined my skills in carpentry. There are 6 volunteers on the same project as myself and I’ve made some good friends.
I was not sure what to expect when I first went to the centre but I instantly felt at home. The staff were very welcoming. I needed to have my confidence built up and I also needed to have something on my CV which showed employability skills to help me gain a job. I also felt that I was struggling with depression and anxiety and becoming reclusive, this was overwhelming. I needed to work at a place with a calming influence and that is exactly what Wildside gives me. I also wanted to learn more about wildlife and to work outside. I wanted to plant things and watch them grow as well as doing something for the local community. If I could learn to use some new tools as well, then that would be a bonus.
I really enjoy coming to Wildside. The staff and volunteers are friendly and support each other. It’s started to get me back into a routine. It’s given me something to focus on and I’m achieving something that not only helps me but also I’m doing something for the community. I’m improving my skills and I’m making friends. I’ve also got a better CV as the Support worker is helping me to improve it and is also helping me look for jobs. I really feel valued again. I’ve learnt about birds and can now recognise some of the species that I see around the centre and I’ve learnt more about gardening. This project is really worthwhile. My self-worth has improved and I’d really like to stay on longer after I’ve finished my 8 weeks as it’s been of benefit to me.
I’d like to get a full time job but I’m not discounting an education course to improve my skills and knowledge if I can find a way of funding it. The support worker at Wildside thinks I’ve got good skills and she’s determined to help me get some interviews.