So far, 2021 has seen new beginnings and exciting opportunities, with the project starting in full swing. With funding awarded from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are excited to announce the commencement of the Bradgers Hill Wilder Futures Project. With communities at its heart, this project aims to see creative ways to engage diverse audiences and forge a new sense of place and belonging within the green spaces of the Luton urban environment.
The project will deliver:
- School and community engagement around the importance of the natural environment and caring for it.
- Conservation management to a vital area of bio-diverse grassland.
- Provide a community with nature connection to improve their overall wellbeing.
Bradgers Hill is a hidden gem in the outskirts of the Bushmead Estate in Luton. A lush grassland habitat for significant wildlife and plants, this belt of green space has been utilised by humans for centuries and still bears the markings from medieval farming to modern warfare when local troupes readied themselves in the chalk pits for the front line. Surrounded by the rolling North Chilterns Chalk hills, the fast-expanding urban landscape of Luton is a bustling community, which will be the focus of our project, both for inspiration and engagement. The relationships within this living landscape form the need for the project; the vital biodiversity and open spaces of Bradgers Hill and how the local community can connects with the landscape.
Until recently, the John Dony Centre (now the Bushmead Community Hub) delivered regular environmental educational activities. Due to changing circumstances, activities ceased for several years. The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire (BCN) alongside its partner Luton Borough Council and volunteer community group Friends of Bradger’s Hill, want to once again deliver heritage and nature engagement activities on this site and in the local communities. We are also working with Tokko Youth Centre in Luton to listen to the needs and interests of young people to help us develop a programme of new activities from next spring. We will work closely in partnership with all parties to ensure the legacy of this project is felt for future generations.
A great connection with nature gives people greater vitality, purpose and happiness and helps people cope with anxiety and stress. Through this nature-based heritage engagement project, we will not only engage the local community in their outdoor spaces and create a connection for them on their doorstop to benefit their health and well-being, but also will instil a sense of belonging and ownership, this in turn foster a sympathetic approach to the landscape from those who use it regularly. Through this project the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire will be responding to a local need to access to the outdoors; allowing those who feel that their connection to nature is less valid than others in different communities, to gain confidence in connecting with the outdoors. We are currently working with Bushmead Primary School, Dallow Primary School and continuing to work with Cardinal Newman in the New Year to create programmes that will promote health, wellbeing and nature connection for their students.
We are working alongside Luton Borough Council and The Conservation volunteers to deliver more conservation work parties from this autumn. We are welcoming enquiries from anyone who might be interested in helping wildlife, meeting new people and learning new skills. Please email Noreen.Iqbal@wildlifebcn.org for more information.
The Bradgers Hill Wilder Futures Project will see an increase in events around Luton, please keep an eye on our website for upcoming events and opportunities! Our Communities and Wildlife Officer, Noreen, has already delivered a trial photography walk on the neighbouring site to Blow’s Downs which was a wonderful success and a great way to hear which activities you are interested in. We’d love to hear your thoughts on our project; what is important to you about wildlife and nature in Luton? Are there any events and activities you’d love to see in your area? Please email Noreen.Iqbal@wildlifebcn.org with your feedback.
For ongoing information about the project:
- Keep an eye out on our project web page; https://www.wildlifebcn.org/bradgers-hill-wilder-futures
- Visit our Bedfordshire facebook page Wildlife Trust Bedfordshire facebook page
- Sign-up to receive the Bedfordshire e-newsletter
- 25th September: We are working with Edible Hightown in Luton to put on a morning of activities and a nature walk in People’s Park.
- 14th November: Join us for our exciting launch event at Bushmead Community hub from 1pm to 4pm, with art activities suitable for all ages.
Events can be booked through Eventbrite closer to the time, however if you have any queries or would like to book in advance, please contact Noreen.Iqbal@wildlifebcn.org.