The Big Park Challenge
Wednesday 10 October 2012
Over 150 young volunteers picked up the gauntlet that was thrown by The Challenge recently to help Park Rangers clean up various locations recently.
The Challenge, a national scheme which encourages young people to volunteer and become involved in activities which benefit the community, provided groups of young people to transform locations at Allesley Walled Graden, Burnsall Road Community Wildlife Park, Coombe Country Park and Lake View Park.
Cabinet Member Councillor Phil Townshend (Community Safety, Equalities, and Parks), agreed that The Challenge provides a really positive benefit for Coventry's Parks and green spaces, and said: "The Challenge was a great idea all round - everybody enjoyed getting stuck in on both days, the Park Service Rangers get very positive feedback from the young people and other volunteers and the sites look great. This is a real success story. I want to thank everyone who took part."
Forty young volunteers were 'challenged' with the task of uncovering a lost footpath within the Burnsall Nature Park in Canley. Working in five separate teams, the young volunteers were quick to master a range of equipment needed to cut through the jungle of undergrowth which had hidden the path.
Everyone was amazed at the difference they had made when the work had been completed. For the first time since the 1990's, people could enjoy a part of the woodland which had become impossible to enter. The newly-uncovered path leads to a spectacular deep-sided wooded ravine, with a stream creating a natural habitat for wildlife. The path will form part of 'The Canley Way' - a four mile walking route connecting the green spaces found in Canley.
45 young people and their leaders worked in five groups to clear overgrown shrubbery in Lake View Park. They also removed litter, planted a new community orchard, spruced up the entrance from the back of the shops, a short section of hedge has been laid in the nature reserve, the nature reserve signs have been stained and the entrances cut back. A skip full of rubbish was removed and 15 new apple, plum and cherry trees planted to recreate the fruit trees of days gone by when the site was an active allotment area.
Over 50 volunteers split up into teams to tackle the various tasks required at the Allesley Walled Garden. These tasks included planting 500 narcissi bulbs, planting winter beans, turning compost heaps, hoeing and raking, painting boards for Halloween and the Bean Pole Den. Some groups picked and displayed beans to sell, while others went out into the wider park with newsletters telling the story of The Challenge and some information about the work of the Allesley Park Walled Garden Group itself.
The challenge for the 60 young people at Coombe Country Park was to remove rhododendron bushes, and then burn the plants, from an area which ideally would be covered in delicate "acid" grassland species. The plan is to restore the area to its natural habitat. The team of over 60 young people to over five hours of back-breaking effort to clear, burn and totally transform the large area.
This is the second year that the Parks Service Rangers have worked with local volunteers. Michelle Tyrtania, Ranger Manager, commented: "The large numbers of people that The Challenge supply, along with their energy and enthusiasm, makes a huge difference to the amount of work we can get done on a site in one day. It supports the work and rejuvenates the efforts of the regular volunteers for those parks and green spaces."
The Council's Park Service work continuously with local volunteers and 'Friends Of' groups and this is the second year as a service of working with The Challenge volunteers.