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MIDDLESBROUGH Environment City

The final event of the Green Shoots Project takes place on Thursday 24th March at Middle Marsh Nature Reserve. Find out more about this event on the poster below!

This time of year inevitably brings a lot of leaf litter which had completely covered the ground at Middlemarsh Nature Reserve. Leaf litter is good for the soil because it allows nutrients to go back into the earth, but if the soil is too nutrient rich then dominant plants like nettles will grow, thriving on the phosphates and nitrogen. To allow for a greater biodiversity of flora, low nutrient soil is needed. By physically removing the leaf litter from Middlemarsh we can reduce the nutrient levels going back into the soil and by next Spring we should hopefully see a greater plant diversity.

We used the leaves we collected and mixed them with deadwood to make habitat piles hidden within the trees. These piles can then become a warm refuge for small mammals, insects, invertebrates and amphibians during the Autumn and Winter months, and with Storm Arwen bringing cold, harsh weather last weekend, this will have been incredibly valuable to the small animals.

We had some brand-new volunteers from Teesside University this week who enjoyed getting stuck into the work, but we need more volunteers! There is a lot of important conservation work to do around Middlesbrough and we need people to help on our volunteer sessions on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. We provide light refreshments at break as a small thank you. There’s also an opportunity to complete some free qualifications in conservation which one of our team members would guide you through. If you would like an informal chat or would like to sign up for a no obligation taster session then please call Casper or Jade on 01642 579820 alternatively email: casper.scallen@menvcity.org.uk or jade.harley@menvcity.org.uk.

The woodland area around Marton West Beck is picturesque and commonly used for dog walkers and pedestrians alike. It has been used by passers by for many years and is home to the locally famous ‘Devil’s Bridge,’ thought to be 18th century and apparently named so for a cloven hoof mark which is said to have worn away on the stone.

The stream and woodland is home to a variety of wildlife such as the kingfisher which has been sighted here. The Green Shoots team have been working on improving the access to Marton West Beck for a number of months, both for the public to safely pass through and to allow our team easy access to carry out our conservation work.

These steps in the photograph had been long forgotten and were hidden in soil and moss with a fallen willow tree blocking the path. The team spent the afternoon digging and exposing the steps and cut back the fallen willow to  uncover the previously hidden path which people are now able to use.

We need volunteers to help us at Marton West Beck and other beck sites around Middlesbrough and we are especially looking for people to begin in January. Which is an amazing opportunity to start the new year by extending your skills, meeting new people, helping the local environment and being able to work towards some free qualification in conservation if you wish.

We are a small group of friendly people and would really appreciate any help. So if you are aged 16-24 and unemployed, or a refugee/asylum seeker or are from a Diverse Ethnic Group then we would love for you to get in touch. Please email jade.harley@menvcity.org.uk if you’re interested!


Brambles! Nature’s barbed wire. Brambles are an important part of the ecosystem because they provide a habitat for a variety of different animals, insects, and other invertebrates. They also offer a food supply in their fruit and roots, which is particularly important during the colder Autumn and Winter months. On top of this, brambles are important to our resident endangered Water Vole as the shrub offers a place of protection when Water Voles are hiding and escaping their predators.

But, if left unmanaged, brambles can cause a problem as their fast and widespread growth means that they will become the dominant plant species and will block the light, preventing other plants from growing around them. To allow for more biodiverse growth of flora which will support a larger variety of animals, the Green Shoots team are cutting back the bramble at Berwick Hills Nature Reserve. Making sure that we leave the fruit that the animals are dependent on but leaving a stretch of bramble to continue acting as a protective habitat, we are cutting back the shrubs which will allow wildflowers, herbs, and other plants to grow back in their place.

If you’re interested in joining our team, then Green Shoots are looking for volunteers to help us in our work! If you are 16-24 and unemployed, or a refugee or asylum seeker, or if you are from a BAME group we would love for you to get in touch! Please email jade.harley@menvcity.org.uk or casper.scallen@menvcity.org.uk to find out more information. Alternatively contact us by telephone 01642 579820.

Charlotte and James helped out the Green Shoots team last week at Middlemarsh, North Ormesby. As well as litter picking, Charlotte and James managed to remove a tree that had fallen and was blocking the beck and obstructing the flow of water. Keeping the becks clean and free from debris is a really important part of the work on the Green Shoots project!

The team also had a Zoom site visit from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last week where they were taken on a virtual tour around Middlemarsh and were given the opportunity to speak to some of the kickstarters and volunteers.

DEFRA came back to us with some great feedback, “I just wanted to say a massive THANK YOU from the whole [Green Shoots] team for your work on these digital site visits! We’ve just been buzzing on our group teams chat about how great it was, how engaging Jade and Colin were and how lovely and insightful it was to hear from the Kickstarters and volunteers. Makes us proud to be working on this fund! Thanks again and please pass on our thanks to the team at Green Shoots ?”.

Well done to everyone on Green Shoots Project for their continued hard work on Middlemarsh, and a huge thank you to DEFRA for their fantastic feedback!

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced a £40 million fund to help create jobs and support the environment. The Green Recovery Challenge Fund is available for a range of activities such as protecting species, finding nature-based solutions to tackling climate change, supporting conservation rangers and connecting people with the outdoors.

Middlesbrough Environment City has been successful in securing funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver practical conservation opportunities helping bring people together from different communities and social backgrounds. Working with ACTES, The Other Perspective and Hemlington Linx, the Green Shoots Project is aimed at people from BAME backgrounds, refugees, asylum seekers and young people to help develop awareness of the town’s green spaces, connectivity with nature and understanding of the issues affecting our climate, wildlife and the habitats they depend on. The project aims to bring together people who are interested in building their own practical skills and knowledge based around conservation and wildlife habitats. It will empower participants with knowledge and opportunities to explore their own interests in nature while improving and enhancing the natural habitat around Middlesbrough in particular becks and streams passing through the town.

133 people have been reached through engagement using outreach techniques face to face, Zoom sessions and by phone. The project has signed up 38 regular volunteers, mainly made up of people from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, with twenty-one practical-based volunteer sessions undertaken, as well as nine Nature Walks. Most volunteers have shown an increase in confidence, self-esteem, improved physical health and positive impacts to their mental health by been able to get out, connect with nature and participate in Green Shoots activities, a particularly important milestone given the year and a half we have all had to endure. All in all, the volunteers have provided almost 300 hours of manpower! We also have ten Kickstart trainees now in post, having completed a variety of training modules including First Aid and Manual Handling to give them a key start in the workplace.

The activities are varied and offer an opportunity for all involved to meet new people and learn about nature, the issues the environment faces and how we can play our part in helping through conservation but also opportunity to learn about different cultures, races, and religions from around the world, the trainees and volunteers have really developed a good rapport with each other. Overall, everyone who has been involved in the project has expressed positive comments and had a really good experience, helping to do more than just offer volunteer experiences but help connect people with other people while connecting them to wider area where they live.

Interested in Green Shoots and want to hear more? Become a volunteer and help make a difference. Get in touch today!

Contact Casper Scallen
Phone: 01642 579820
E-Mail: casper.scallen@menvcity.org.uk

Contact Jade Harley
Phone: 01642 579820
E-Mail: jade.harley@menvcity.org.uk

Press Coverage

The following story from the National Lottery Heritage Fund highlights how the Green Shoots Project is working efficiently towards bringing together different communities and ethnic groups, as well as how it is providing opportunities for young people to train whilst also caring for our local community: https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/stories/bringing-people-together-green-spaces

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If you're looking for a job not quite as intense as our Director's role, then be sure to visit The Community Hub at North Ormesby every Thursday, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, and drop into their Job Search Club which offers exclusive volunteering and training opportunities, interview preparation, CV and cover letter guidance and more! ... See MoreSee Less

If youre looking for a job not quite as intense as our Directors role, then be sure to visit The Community Hub at North Ormesby every Thursday, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, and drop into their Job Search Club which offers exclusive volunteering and training opportunities, interview preparation, CV and cover letter guidance and more!
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