The Ecology Island is a closed-off area of Central Park, Dartford. With the river Darent running along both sides of the site, this woodland area is a haven from urban life. It has a beautiful wooden building for shelter and lots of river-side wildlife such as water voles. At present, the site is rarely used except for sporadic events, and attracts antisocial behavior and fly tipping; brambles are taking over and covering the site, and invasive Himalayan Balsam is clogging up the river banks. The wooden building is currently unusable because of a problem with the doors. In short, the island is in need of regular care and use. In 2018 NKMind and NWKCP ran some sessions on the island, where people in recovery from mental health issues came to maintain the island. They enjoyed it so much and felt so much better afterwards that they would like to form a permanent group to look after and enjoy the island. This funding would allow the group to look after the island, and feel better for it.
What we'll deliver:
Why it's a great idea:
This is an opportunity to achieve two wonderful outcomes through one project - rescuing this beautiful woodland space from becoming overgrown and covered in rubbish, and allowing a group of people who are in recovery from mental health issues to benefit from volunteering outdoors, taking ownership of a space and connecting with one another. This group of people has got to know one another from previous activities we have run on the site, and they have made connections that mean the world to them. To be able to go to this site weekly, work outdoors and be in a situation where they do not feel judged could make all the difference to their recovery, and could lead to further volunteering and job opportunities. They will learn practical conservation and wildlife ID skills, and benefit both physically and mentally from looking after the Ecology Island.
Steps to get it done:
Staff from North West Kent Countryside Partnership will be present weekly to lead the conservation activities, and make sure that the site is managed in the best possible way for its wildlife. Staff from North Kent Mind will be present weekly to help the group through any tough moments and make sure they feel totally supported at all times.
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