DD Charity Blog
A place for us to highlight the great work of charitable groups we are supporting with donations of DD Hammocks Gear each month. We are proud to be working with community engagement programs, mental health charities and more to provide equipment and easy access to the great outdoors for those in need.
DD Charity Update - August 2023
School is still out and summer is still sunny and warm - and so there's no better time of year to get as much DD Charity gear into the hands of those in need so everyone can enjoy the wonders of the great outdoors!
This month we have had the pleasure of working with two organisations. The Knowetop Project is an arm of Alternatives Community-based Recovery with the original aim of helping those recover from addiction (and has since expanded to include community and youth work) using the outdoors, as well as Alderney Wildlife Trust; a Guernsey based organisation with a passion for preserving the green spaces we live in with the aim of launching a free summer youth programme to get the islands' young people involved with nature.
The Knowetop Project is a local organisation situated on a 15 acre site in Dumbartonshire, Scotland. The project works with people from across West Dunbartonshire and offers a range of horticulture and conservation activities, all with the aim of making the site good for people and good for nature. Set up by Alternatives Community-based Recovery in 2021 to offer meaningful outdoor work for people in recovery from addiction, the scope of the project has broadened to work with anyone from the community and they now run regular volunteer sessions for adults, work with both local primary schools, and run an afterschool group for primary school children.
We catch up with Claire Travis of Alternatives Community-based Recovery, who tells us more about the Knowetop Project;
"Alternatives works with people with addiction-related challenges. We shape solutions that work for individuals, so they can make informed choices on their journey from personal chaos towards wholeness and citizenship. Set up in 2021 our Horticulture & Wildlife project offers service users and the wider local community a safe space to engage with nature, learn new skills, share in the produce grown on site and improve their mental and physical wellbeing through time in a greenspace. We run a range of events and activities, open to all, encouraging local people to engage with nature in a variety of different ways.
The project is based on a 15 acre site that was previously a community farm, well-loved and much missed by the local community since it closed, and the site has been unused for more than 10 years. In this time nature has started to reclaim it and we are working with our recovery clients and the local community to enhance the biodiversity on the site, and encourage increased community involvement.
One acre is a fenced space with porta-cabin and storage container where recovery clients and community volunteers grow fruit, veg and herbs. The other 14 acres offer a range of wildlife habitats, and we have started to establish a community orchard, and mindfulness garden and will be setting up community food growing spaces.
As well as Alternatives recovery clients, local volunteers, community groups and Community Payback Order teams have been involved with work on site since July 2021. The project aims to provide a space that enables people to benefit from regular time in nature, and the opportunity to become more involved horticulture and conservation activities. We hope to reduce isolation, increase engagement with nature, and reduce the stigma attached to being in recovery from addiction.
We run a programme of outdoor education with the local primary schools, regular volunteer sessions, green wellbeing activities and public events to encourage the community to use the site for engaging with nature, and enhancing their physical and mental wellbeing.The donation of hammocks and tarps will be put to good use by our different groups, we’re looking forward to getting them set up."
We hope that Claire and the rest of the Knowetop community enjoy every single adventure with their new DD Hammocks and Tarps, and will continue to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors for many more years to come!
If you would like to know more about The Knowetop Program and Alternatives Community-based Recovery as well as all the various healing and community services they offer, you can find our more on their Facebook and Website.
When think about spending time outdoors, we also need to make sure we act to conserve it's beauty and all its' benefits!
The Alerney Wildlife Trust believes in this very philosphy, and Abigail de Castella goes on to explain more about the AWT ethos and how they're giving back to nature.
"The Alderney Wildlife Trust is one of the 46 Wildlife Trusts working across the British Isles. Alderney is home to migrating birds such as Gannets, Puffins, and Ringed Plovers and is surrounded by a Mediterranean-esque ocean filled with solitary corals and Pink Sea Fans. Sea slugs, the Green Ormer, and Crawfish shelter in our Eelgrass beds and Kelp forests whilst Grey Seals, Minke Whales and Bottlenose Dolphin can be seen above the waves. The sea itself is a spectacle having the 4th fastest tidal stream in the UK with waves seen higher than 100ft during our wild winters.
On land we have a unique variety of native flora & fauna predominantly influenced by the sea air. Old Monterey Pine and blonde hedgehogs are renowned for Historically however, John Leland (1506-1552) notes on his sketch map of the Channel Islands; 'Alderney is fairly fertile in corn and cattle, but is notably lacking in trees'. Which leads me to the Alderney Community Woodland (ACW) which was started in 2009 to try and bring native tree cover back to Alderney as well as becoming a focal point for the community and wildlife. Historic features like our woodland bunker and a variety of habitats and wildlife come together in this 17-hectare site to create what we hope will be a unique and diverse landscape to mammals like bats and blonde hedgehogs. With over 12,000 native broadleaf trees planted it is hoped that the establishing woodland will begin to naturally spread and regenerate.
Our Outreach Officer, Rowie, has been running Nature’s Classroom for the past year within local playgroups, St Anne’s School and our local Youth Club, Aspire Alderney. This project includes a variety of activities that support outdoor learning of the children’s natural environment. From foraging sessions, boat trips, and marine tank sessions, to seed bomb making that contributes toward our pollinator project, there are a heap of skills and knowledge to share.
But what about the future? Research shows that nature connection underpins the ability to take action for nature. Our younger generations will be responsible for this land in years to come, that’s why we want to offer opportunities for the Youth of Alderney to immerse themselves in the woodland in the hope it inspires them to take care of its future. With thanks to funding from and with our winnings from the Insurance Corporations Conservation Awards 2023, we have been able to create a programme of activities for children aged 7-13. From woodland craft, butterfly transects and eco printing, to den building, knot practice and hammock hang outs, we are ready to begin a journey of falling in love with the sights, sounds and shelter that the woodland provides.
We are incredibly grateful to DD Hammocks for donating a set of hammocks and tarps for us to hang out in. This is the first Forest School pilot for the Alderney Wildlife Trust starting next week, so we will be back to update you all on how it went and how we can develop the programme for 2024!"
With their new DD gear we hope that the Alderney Wildlife Trust summer youth programme will continue for many more summers, and will help inspire as many children to help conserve and protect our natural green spaces!
To find out more about the services and aims of the Alderney Wildlife Trust provide and they programmes they run, you can read more on their website.
Summer is still here and autumn is on the horizon - it's prime camping time and as the seasons change we want everyone to experience this wonderful time of year!
So, if you know of a charity, group or cause with a focus on the outdoors and a passion for helping those less fortunate get out into nature that would benefit from some free outdoor equipment plus a spot on the DD Charity Blog to showcase their work, we would love to hear from you!
Help us support even more people, and get involved by getting in touch with us via our DD Charity contact form.
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About the writer
A regular on the hiking trails of Northern Scotland, Vikki loves nothing more than being in the great outdoors. When she's not pulling on her hiking boots or trail shoes, this DD Team Member can often be spotted in the gym or curled up at home with a sketchpad and pencil.