Young people making a difference in our parks this summer

This summer we partnered with the National Citizen Service (NCS) – a personal development programme for 15–17-year-olds leaving secondary education – and delivery partners Newcastle United Foundation and Catch 22 to deliver 12 days of social action across our parks for over 280 young people from across the city.

The young people took part in a variety of activities: from volunteering tasks such as litter picking, to community engagement activities such as helping with our Bioblitz family activity day in Heaton Park on 5 August.

Through the partnership, the young people were also able to get involved in our Beelines North East project and learn about the importance of pollinators and how we’re looking to bring the buzz back to the city. You can find out more about Beelines North East.

The young people worked incredibly hard and during the summer delivered some amazing work across Newcastle’s parks, including:

  • Removing 159 bags of litter across nine parks.
  • Raking and seeding five meadow sites as part of our Beelines North East project. These meadows will help to bring the buzz back to the city by creating nectar-rich habitats for bees and other pollinators at Exhibition Park, Paddy Freeman’s Park, The Quarry and Jesmond Vale.
  • Assisting with our Big Bioblitz Event in Heaton Park on 5 August, helping to run activities such as face painting and bug hunts. The event was a great success with 305 people attending.
  • Repairing the education area of Pets’ Corner, giving it a fresh coat of paint, and pruning back overgrown parts of Pets’ Corner.
  • Engaging with a community engagement research project in partnership with Northumbria University and Urban Green Newcastle to find innovative ways to engage the community in green spaces.
  • Raising over £1,000 to help us improve the parks through sponsored walks.
  • Helping bring back to use an overgrown wildlife area in Jesmond Dene where groups of school kids can visit, learn about local wildlife, and connect with nature in partnership with the Friends of Jesmond Dene.
  • Creating seven bird boxes to provide a home for birds.
  • Tidying the weeds around Paddy Freeman’s Park Urban Green Café.
  • And supporting a summer Beelines North East Education Activity Nature Day.

Jack White, our Community Engagement Coordinator, said: “Young people often get criticised for gathering and hanging around in parks, but what this partnership with NCS has shown is that young people are engaged in their local green spaces, they do care about their local community and environment, and they do want to make a difference.

“We have been amazed by their work this summer and they are a true credit to the city.”

Rachel Faichnie, Beelines North East Education Officer, said: “It has been great to partner with NCS this summer and to engage so many young people in our Beelines North East project, in particular with the meadows which will become beautiful nectar-rich habitats when they fully bloom next year.”

Jordan Wragg, NCS Coordinator at NUFC Foundation, said: “It has been fantastic to engage so many young adults with Urban Green Newcastle, to give them the opportunity to understand the importance of our parks and green spaces.

“The opportunity Urban Green Newcastle has provided our young adults and the work they have put in has been fantastic. We look forward to partnering with Urban Green Newcastle again.”

Chris Pickering, NCS Project Coordinator at Catch 22, said: “It was great working with Urban Green Newcastle.

“The team were amazing when engaging with over 200 of our NCS participants, inspiring a new generation to roll up their sleeves and have a positive impact on their community and the environment around them.

“We look forward to working with Urban Green Newcastle more in the future.”

If this article has inspired you to volunteer some of your time working with us to make Newcastle’s parks amazing spaces for people to visit and enjoy, sign up to become an official Urban Green Volunteer. There are lots of different ways you can get involved: from litter picking and gardening, to helping deliver education sessions and caring for the animals in Pets’ Corner.