Wild bunch in a box

By Col Stocker

When Eco Birmingham applied to the Alpkit Foundation they were looking for support to help forest school sanctuary sessions with asylum seekers families. However when Covid-19 hit they had to rethink their activities. So rather than putting a halt to everything they came up with a way to engage with the families, the Wild Bunch in a Box (with the Wild Bunch being the name of their outdoor sessions). This was a free activity box-scheme created in partnership with a local community garden group, the Friends of Masefield community garden.

The grant allowed them to buy materials such as clay, tote-bags, twine, cotton threads, seeds, fabric paint, printing paper, seeds envelopes, compost coir discs, cotton calico pieces so that the families had everything needed to complete the projects in each box. Such box schemes exist on the market, however it was important to be able to connect with families on low income who might not otherwise be able to take part in this sort of activities.

Anne from EcoBirmingham let us know how they had been getting on.

“The children who received the boxes all live in a deprived area of South Birmingham and have, in the past, been enjoying the outdoor activities at the community garden. We know that many of these families don’t have a garden so Covid restrictions have put additional strain on them. We wanted to help them continue to enjoy their local green spaces and the projects included in the boxes encourage them to explore, use their senses, their creativity. The children are able to learn new facts about the wildlife and the environment.”

So as the restrictions eased off, they were able to build on the engagement they had built, so encouraging the children to come to the community garden and share their creations, ask for tips from volunteer gardeners and find a place to plant their seedlings.

“Some children came on a Saturday morning and were given their latest activity box there. They enjoyed learning about how to reduce the plastic in their lunch box as well as how to help the decreasing population of beetles. We have, so far, distributed boxes to 20 children during 3 months (we are planning 3 more months). Parents have said how they enjoyed sharing these activities with their children as it had given them a sense of purpose while in the outdoors, whilst grateful for the ideas on how to get the children off screens!”

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