What is the Milestones Project?

The Milestones project is connecting vulnerable and marginalised young people aged 11-24 to their local, natural environment. We offer a wide variety of opportunities aimed at raising aspirations, expand individual’s knowledge and appreciation of local green spaces and foster an appreciation and connection with the environment. 

This approach has been shown to have beneficial effects on emotional and physical well-being, behaviour and social integration.

To provide the best opportunities and experiences possible we work in partnership with a number of organisations including, schools, colleges, community groups, youth groups, Wiltshire Council, probation services and housing associations. Additionally Reading University is evaluating findings to enable the sharing of long-term lessons.

Milestones is part of Our Bright Future, a £33 million programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund which is providing £1m of funding to thirty one youth-led projects across the UK which aims to provide  young people with the skills and knowledge to improve their local environments. Our Bright Future aims to tackle three big challenges facing society today:

  • A lack of social cohesion;
  • A lack of opportunities for young people; and
  • Vulnerability to climate change.

Reaching our 1 year Milestone!

Winter was not without its celebrations, in January we celebrated our first birthday, hooray! This was a great opportunity to get all the team together, staff and volunteers, to celebrate the achievements of the past year with a little light competition at the local skittles alley!

2016 was a fantastic first year for the project; with the support of our committed volunteers and partners we have achieved some remarkable outcomes;

  • 394 vulnerable and marginalised young people have a greater awareness and understanding of nature and their local environment, and improved self-esteem and aspiration
  • 87 distinct high-impact, young-person led environmental projects have been completed, including conservation work on nature reserves and the building of six community gardens
  • 195 formal accreditations have been achieved, and with this the young people are more resilient, and better equipped and trained to be actively involved in improving and contributing to community green spaces and the green economy
  • 8 young people are trained and acting as Ambassadors to inspire others and lead future community projects

Winter in Wiltshire…

The cold crisp and windy wet days didn’t stop the Milestones Team from being busy this winter with a plethora of projects going on throughout the county.

 

Wiltshire College

We had a great start to the year with a new member of the team joining us. Christine is a teacher of 30 years, avid vegetable grower and outdoor enthusiast, is now leading our group work with Wiltshire College. The three Wiltshire College groups have been busy working throughout the winter to coppice a large coup at Green Lane Wood near Trowbridge and contributed to planting the 350 trees at Penn Wood in Calne.

 

Term time groups

We have set up a new group with Hardenhuish School who are out and about every week learning about the seasonal changes on the reserves and taking part in a number of different conservation tasks.

Our regular groups from Swindon Academy have been out weekly exploring a number of new nature reserves and green spaces in Wiltshire. The years 7’s have been out on multiple windy walks and now have gone from novice kite flyers to experts. We have also been helping out at Green Lane Wood learning how to coppice trees and complete some skillful stool making workshops with the coppiced material.

We have also made a number of visits to the Lakeside Care Farm, where we have been given all sorts of tasks from observing interesting animal behaviours to planting wildflower seeds and filling raised beds.

Meanwhile the Year 10 group have been designing and creating their own Forest School gardens on the school grounds. With over 600 trees now planted we are well on our way to making the space a magical place for the next generation of budding young nature enthusiasts and gained new skills and accreditations in the process.

Holiday Activities

The school holidays have been equally as busy; we have been working with our partners Splash to provide some fun filled activities across the county. February half term challenged the groups to a day of Animalympics and a woodland winter survival day where we braved the cold and created natural thermal shelters and tried our hands at fire lighting ready for a lunch cooked on the fire.

Community Payback and Community Groups

 Tony and Simon have been busy bees planting a bee-friendly hedge at Sandpool with the help of the team at Mitch Eley Gould Architects , the home for our new apiary. The hives are all ready and build by students at Cirencester College. Look out for the building of the new living roof for the apiary over the spring.

With the support of the Community Payback team a number of school grounds and community gardens have also been sprinkled with a touch of Milestones fairy dust including; the planting of an orchard and building of raised beds at the Canal and Rivers Trust Jubilee Wood at Caen Hill, the creation of a reflection garden at Winterslow, pond clearance at Wansdyke Primary school, willow weaving with Friends of Abberds Brook and so much more.

To top off our wild winter we have also had some delightful visitors coming out to see what we get up to. Cath and Nikki from Our Bright Future spent the day with Wiltshire Councils Youth Inclusion Programme learning how to coppice, making mallets and get muddy playing a few of our favourite woodland games.

We also received another wonderful visit from Kirsty Haasjes from Wiltshire Community Foundation who presented us with a whopping cheque and generous grant of £5000 to support our work with the young people of Wiltshire and Swindon!

To keep up to date with what we get up to on the Milestones project following us on Twitter @wiltswild