Engaging Communities August Spotlight

27 August 2021


South West Peak Nature Based Integration for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

In this eighth ‘spotlight’ we are focusing on Asha North Staffordshire and their Nature Based Integration Projects 2019 and 2021.

In the early years of our Engaging Communities Project, in October 2018 to be precise, we received a grant application from Asha North Staffordshire.

Asha North Staffordshire is a charity formed in 2005 to help men, women and children seeking refuge from persecution: Asha: About Us

The application presented a project which was a unique collaboration between Asha and Gradbach Scout Camp. Proposing a series of day activities, run by Debbie Rushworth (District Commissioner for High Peak District Scouts), at the Camp the numerous project aims were to:

  • Enable children and volunteers (the majority being the parents of the children) to gain a greater awareness, respect and empathy for the area near where they live/what is on their door step.
  • Give children the opportunity to explore free / low cost natural activities that can be replicated in their own community.
  • Provide opportunities for children to freely explore and regain the right to free play and, in so doing, improve mental wellbeing.
  • Encourage and develop communication, teamwork, new friendships, kindness and leadership and gain greater confidence in integrating in to British Society.
  • Build a greater awareness of nature and enthusiasm to go out and explore.
  • Enable the children & volunteers to escape the pressures of their home environment.

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Over an action pack and fun-filled 6 days, a multitude of activities took place including; a team building nature trail, blackberry picking, getting stuck in the mud, clay modelling and clay printing, a woodland walk, story telling under the big old oak tree, a stepping stones adventure , a blindfold trail, collecting wood, fire lighting, baked apples and chocolate bananas, Luds Church Myths & Legends, den building, Tag, leaf collecting, making kazoos, lunch by the Fire & Luds Church again!!! As well as, giant bubbles, den building, pop bottle rockets, a bug hunt, arrow making & throwing, “electrified” bungee maze, pond dipping, playing in the river. Weaselling on The Roaches, gate-crashing Staffordshire Wildlife Trusts Wild Play and team games reflecting on “our summer at Gradbach”

To watch a ‘highlights’ video from their first project, click here:

Asha: South West Peak Nature Based Integration Project 2019

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The feedback received was fantastic and inspiring to read:

A Parent; didn’t know Belted Galloway Cows have their white belt naturally.

An 8-year-old; heard crickets for the first time

A 10-year-old; didn’t know you can eat some wild berries, tasting blackberries and bilberries for the first time & loving them.

An 8-year-old; hadn’t seen round bales before, didn't know what they were

A very emotional Mum; “I love this it reminds me of home where I grew up. I have never been able to describe to my children where home is. This experience has given them something tangible to relate to. It has made me very happy!!!!”

A teenager; “this is brilliant, the scenery is just like where we used to go and visit where my Nan lives back in my home country.”

Mum; “this is great, having the opportunity to escape my worries for a day and to feel free.”

“The only way I can describe how the children reacted is like when you let calves out of the shed for the first day of spring. They ran and laughed. They ran around, felt free and immersed themselves in nature.”

For both parents and children putting wellingtons on, trampling in mud and puddles was a new or re-discovered experience from a long time ago.

Feedback from children;

“AMAZING!!!! 10,000000 out of 10”

“I paddled in the coke cola river”

Following the success of the project Asha submitted a second project application and were successful in February 2020 being awarded a second grant. Unfortunately, the project has been delayed since then due to the corona virus pandemic but, happily, is now due to take place this September so keep a look out for more news and pictures to come!

To find out more about Asha, please go here: Asha North Staffordshire website

To find Asha on facebook go here: Asha North Staffordshire facebook page

To learn more about the Engaging Communities project click here.

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