Through the dedication and hard work of the many volunteers, stakeholders and delivery partners, the Land of the Fanns Scheme has continued throughout 2020 with many projects now coming to a successful conclusion and lots to celebrate. Well over halfway through, with over £1 million already invested in project delivery, we are now looking forward to securing the legacy for the Scheme.
This year has seen a big increase in people engaging in volunteer activity across the Land of the Fanns. We have exceeded a significant milestone in our targets for volunteering, with 10,216 volunteer hours, equivalent to £192,118 of volunteer time, over the course of the Scheme so far. With so much still happening, even during lockdown, this clearly demonstrates the outreach potential the Scheme is having and the value local people have placed on taking part through volunteering.
In terms of people participating in events and training activities, we have now reached a total of 3,239 people since the scheme began in 2017. Although the number of participants has dropped this year due to Covid, the move to online delivery of training activities has been crucial in sustaining the involvement of the local community.
Looking forward to the new year will see the launch of our Educational Resource website, showcasing the best the Land of the Fanns has to offer, helping those involved in education to engage young people. We will also be working with Essex Wildlife Trust on the delivery of a range of outdoor learning opportunities. Later in the year we will be launching our book celebrating the stories gathered across the landscape. This has been the culmination of a huge effort to uncover the significance of local community assets and a celebration of them through the arts. Earlier this year saw an event featuring 100 hand painted silk flags celebrating everything from an escaped ostrich to the spirit of Captain Harle.
We remain optimistic that volunteers will continue to be engaged in projects and hopeful that we can build on the success of our online engagement offer in 2021.
Community Action Fund
We have now successfully allocated all of the £75,000 funding for our Community Action Fund. This has contributed to over 20 community projects across the Land of the Fanns, helping to fulfill the overall aims of the Land of the Fanns Scheme. Most recently the fund has been awarded to projects ranging from tree works at Shenfield Common, Essex Rock & Mineral Society and the Essex Gardens Trust project Unforgettable Gardens. It’s been great to see so many new projects being delivered as a result of the funds received through the Community Action Fund.
As with all the projects, delivery partners are coping well with Covid and restrictions, finding innovative ways to deliver their projects. Some are doing activities online which are working well such as recent webinars by Museum of London Archaeology, who held fun interactive activities online as well as talking about the basics of Archaeology and having a question and answer section too. These are now available on the Land of the Fanns YouTube channel.
A few interpretation projects have now been completed, Bedfords Park in Havering and Eastbrookend in Barking & Dagenham, with most finishing early next year. Interpretation projects at Valence House and Eastbury Manor in Barking & Dagenham continued to engage with volunteers and new audiences throughout 2020 taking some of their activities and workshops online.
The 50 Fabulous Features Document has been very well received by different stakeholders and the local press have given it a great deal of page space. We at Land of the Fanns along with The Gardens Trust are planning a meeting with local authority planners in the New Year to discuss the document and how it can be of help in the planning system. The document can be downloaded from our website.
Throughout this year there have been many changes in plans due to Covid however with the help of delivery partners we have been able to adapt and continue progressing with lots of the environmental projects.
Rivers have been a focus for us this year and will continue to be next year. We have been working with Thames21 on the delivery of river restoration projects along the Rivers Rom, Ingrebourne and Mardyke and a Natural Flood Management project along Rise Park Stream in Bedfords Park. In partnership with Forestry England, a series of new wetland scrapes and three ponds have been created on the floodplain of the River Ingrebourne. They will hold water and help support a more varied habitat of wetland grasses and meadows, enhancing the freshwater ecosystem at Pages Wood and creating new habitats for many creatures which live on land, in the water or on the wing, such as wading birds, which use wetlands for feeding and breeding. Next year will see the delivery of the other river projects so look out for events and opportunities to volunteer to help improve your local river.
Working in partnership with Thames Chase Trust we have been developing the community tree nursery based at the Broadfields site. The Community Tree Nursery Officer has been working throughout lockdown with the help of volunteers to collect local native seeds and grow them in the nursery, the trees will then be planted in the Community Forest. Getting outdoors has been a big focus for everyone this year, if you are looking for more walks to do, 10 additional walks leaflets have been created that are available via the Thames Chase website to download. These are a fantastic resource with detailed walking routes, places of interest and local history.
Another great success of this year was from the apprentice program with Forestry England with one of the Forest Craftsperson Apprentices securing an exciting opportunity with Forest Research. Through the apprentice program they were able to gain all of the necessary skills and experience needed for the new role.
There are lots more exciting activities planned for 2021 that we can’t wait to share with you!
Don’t forget to look out for more updates on the progress of the Land of the Fanns Scheme on social media.
Land of the Fanns Scheme Manager