With the help of Dorset Wildlife Trust's Urban Green project, a group of local people transformed the green space in the heart of Bournemouth town centre at St Peter's Church - watch their story and hear how connecting with nature has transformed their lives too.
Urban Green projects
St Peter's Church, Bournemouth town centre
Volunteers at St Peter’s Church in Bournemouth town centre worked hard to transform their churchyard into a tranquil place with wildlife-friendly planting and made it a safer space for everyone in the community to enjoy. Clearing the invasive rhododendron and undergrowth was quite a challenge as was planting 6,000 bulbs which make a huge impact in the spring. There was plenty of historical interest in the churchyard, notably the grave of Mary Shelley located in the graveyard and the Grade II listed Chapel of the Resurrection commemorating local men who fought in the First World War as well as the graves of many prominent locals who lived in the town. Key to the vision was to provide places to sit and reflect or have lunch, an outdoor learning space as well as wildlife and history trails.
In North Bournemouth, the Townsend Together partnership worked to improve the local green spaces on the estate for residents to use and enjoy in different ways as well as making those spaces more wildlife friendly. The work included planting the roadside verges in front of the shop and car parking area with wildlife friendly plants and creating low maintenance community wildlife gardens opposite the youth centre and in the grounds of the YMCA. Planting concentrated on a variety of perennials, shrubs and trees to attract more wildlife and to encourage pollinators and other invertebrates. To engage with the local community, the project encouraged people to get involved with the working parties and hosted a popular bird box making event at the local community centre.
Bluebell Community Woodland, St Michael's Church, Hamworthy
Over in Hamworthy, local residents rose to the challenge of creating a community woodland, garden and a 'Living Churchyard' in the grounds of St Michael's Church. Local people joined together with community groups including Adam Practice, Friends of Hamworthy Park, Holton Lee, local tree surgeons, nurseries, social workers and more in a fantastic effort to improve this important green space. Working parties cleared paths, removed the invasive laurel, thinned the holly and improved the habitat for birds and animals. This work made it possible to hold family events at the woodland to engage the neighbours and the broader community including minibeast hunting and Forest School which attracted many young people from the local scout group, nursery and secondary school. There are plans for a woodland toddler group to meet in the woodland soon.
Storytelling workshops with the communities of young people at Youth Centre and adults with mental health conditions at the Day Centre were organised as part of the Urban Green project in Verwood. Many stories, memories and feelings were recorded and fashioned into a beautiful story bench which has now been installed in the heart of the community for everyone to enjoy. Read the full story here
The 'Connections' booklet celebrates the work and achievements carried out by the local community living close to Alderney Rec and the community garden, supported by Dorset Wildlife Trust. Home to some of the rarest wildlife in the UK and a green corridor between Canford Heath and the Bourne Valley, it is also an important green space connecting this community to nature. The booklet captures memories, stories and drawings collected at a storytelling workshop held at Alderney West Community Centre.
The Urban Green project enabled us to transform our neglected, dark and dangerous churchyard into an oasis for the public, visitors and office workers who now use it to wander through, have lunch on our new picnic benches and relax. We planted thousands of plants for pollinators and butterflies and installed bat and bird boxes and a heritage and nature trail. Thank you to all involved for their guidance and support.St Peter's Church, Bournemouth