How do I get the right people involved?


Youth - What about them?! 

Planning for flooding - What about this?! How is this relevant? 

Neighbourhood Planning - How is this relevant? 

'Green projects' - Again, relevance? 


Case studies 

Cambourne community garden Cambourne Community garden - The outside fence and top of the green house

At Cambourne Village College, the sensory garden project was started in 2019 as part of the school’s RHS School Gardening Awards initiative and after-school gardening club which aim to encourage interest in horticulture and the local ecosystem, get pupils outside and involved in nature, as well as providing a calm sanctuary to aid mental well-being. The sensory garden has been designed by students and the greenhouse and pathways will enable them to take responsibility for day-to-day cultivation of flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Recruiting volunteers from the local community (retired people with expertise and knowledge) interested in supporting young people and working alongside them, as well as mentors from the Royal Horticultural Society (East of England) and the University of Cambridge (Madingley Gardens), Cambourne Village College hope to inspire and motivate the young people involved in this project and guide them on the future and how it will develop.

A view of the Cambourne community garden from a window

Cambourne Village College work with all young people, by directing them into positive community activities such as building and maintaining the garden. They are encouraging our participants to see this as an opportunity for self‐expression. They are hoping in the future to include a mural produced by young people, adjacent to the garden itself. The nature of what will appear here is entirely in the hands of our young people.

The garden will be a source of produce. The college will seek to bundle their produce and sell it to the local community and will offer this opportunity to our young people as a method of making the garden financially sustainable, or as a contribution towards financial sustainability. In summer, when in full bloom, they will use these times to create social events where their young people can welcome their family and friends in to show them what they have achieved and what they have been investing their time in.

All of these concepts aim to improve social capacity – a sense of shared purpose and collective responsibility, that when needed, in times of adversity or hardship could be called upon. The college hopes that all of these methods will mobilise the support of young people and help them to understand the genuine and practical power they have to support the community and, when necessary, enact change and improvement. Taking an active and leading role in community building and by making social contribution through working together in the garden will encourage our young people to experience and enjoy nature. This will be a key factor in influencing and empowering them to adopt environmental stewardship – and will lessen the risk of areas of the town falling into decline or dilapidation.

It is also an opportunity for young people to include their work on their CV’s and the project aims to build confidence so that other areas of the town can be cultivated and cared for in a similar way.


Great Shelford Community Garden

An unused eyesore area of copse at Great Shelford Recreation Ground, transformed into an outdoor natural play space and woodland trail three years ago, will be further developed with a £7,681 grant adding permanent play dens, paths, plants and equipment.

Shelford and Stapleford Youth Initiative’s (SSYI) project Copse#2 at Great Shelford Recreation Ground will also see young people getting outdoors and enjoying nature.

The scheme began 3 years ago when SSYI, in conjunction with Great Shelford Playscape, transformed a disused area of land into an outdoor wild play area for the community with willow structures, benches, planting and landscaping.

This will now be enlarged with permanent den structures, more woodland pathways and places to explore and socialise in the open air, while local young people working on the project can develop new skills and feel a valued part of the community.

Lead worker for SSYI, Zac Britton said work had already begun with everything to be completed by next summer. “The space is there to be used by all ages - young children will enjoy hiding in the dens, exploring the plants and wooded areas and seeing wildlife up close with the magnifying posts we are installing, while walkers will be able to appreciate nature as they exercise.”

Shelford & Stapleford Youth Initiative - Copse Community project

Shelford & Stapleford Youth Initiative, established in 1997, is a community-based charity serving the villages of Great and Little Shelford and Stapleford, providing activities for local 10 to 18 year olds. Their work gives opportunities to engage with young people and build relationships, encourages more positive behaviour, stimulates involvement in the community and promotes informal education.

Great Shelford Parish Council, together with Shelford Playscape, identified the need to improve a corner of the Great Shelford recreation Ground, in order to reduce antisocial behaviour, enhance a major community asset, and provide a central year-round location for sports, leisure, and play for all ages.

The original Copse project in 2016-17 involved transforming an unsightly and underused part of the Recreation Ground into a wild play area. This included clearing the area, creating paths and some willow structures to play in (in partnership with a willow artist), and with the help of a horticulturalist clearing the intruder plants and planting some more native and sympathetic items. Then creating the new wild-play area and installing associated equipment and seating, under supervision.  The young people use the recreation ground for socialising with their friends and are keen to make it a more interesting and exciting place to be. They enjoy getting hands-on and learning new skills. As they have all been affected by the isolation of lockdown, they are desperate to get outside, and to do something new and exciting. They have expressed a desire to get back in the Copse and develop it further. We also deployed local experts in eg horticulture, willow-den construction, and making bird-boxes.

Through this work, many of the challenges that the young people face are addressed: belonging, confidence, positive social interactions and risk taking, understanding of their role in the community, constructive engagement with people of all ages. It improves emotional and physical health and well-being, providing purpose and a safe focus for those involved. As a result the young people will be more resilient, and the wider community will see them as positive contributors to their village, as well as benefiting from the actual Copse itself.

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