IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Garden fund grows! £20k boost for nature charity

12 June, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Youngsters taking part in The Garden Classroom activities aimed at helping more young people get outdoors to enjoy and understand nature

THE post-coronavirus future of a charity dedicated to helping children in Islington’s primary schools get into nature has been secured thanks to 400 people donating more than £20,000.

The Garden Classroom was founded in 2008 and works with 40 primary schools and several London boroughs, offering half-day education sessions in parks and gardens close to schools.

Some of their programmes include the “Wonderful World of Bees” and an urban version of the Forest School programme.

After the coronavirus hit and schools closed in March, the charity was unsure whether it would be able to keep its team together, or return its programmes once the lockdown was lifted.

But now, with their target of £20,000 secured, the Garden Classroom says it is already planning how best to deliver its programmes to schools that are starting to welcome pupils back.

A spokeswoman told the Tribune: “We are expecting that lots of schools will want their pupils learning outdoors when they return to school, partly because outdoors there’s less risk of catching the virus, it’s easier to socially distance outdoors and being outdoors, in nature, is better for children’s mental health.

“We’re already working with one Islington school to plan how we can run sessions in their local park safely.

“So securing this funding means that we can hang on to all our staff and be ready for when schools need us.”

Thanking all who have so far donated, the spokeswoman added: “Thank you so much for all your support to our charity. With your help we will adapt our services to reach more disadvantaged urban children who have been greatly affected by being locked in confined spaces, many without green spaces, gardens or balconies.

“Connecting children to nature has proven mental health and well-being benefits. Our crowdfunder will help the team support many more vulnerable young people in our community to overcome the negative impact of Covid-19. Never has it been more vital.”

The Garden Classroom also reaches out to the wider community with programmes such as Green Walks, Little Explorers, a regular nature discovery drop-in for parent, carers and toddlers, holiday clubs and free community events in parks and gardens.

The charity has joined Islington and Camden Health Authority as a stakeholder partner in piloting the council’s “green social prescribing” service to create healthier parks.

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