Tanhouse Youth Club have worked in close partnership with the Sandwell Valley RSPB Nature Reserve, to engage young people into projects based around building respect for nature and connecting them to the wildlife that is on their doorsteps. The project emerged around 12 months ago when the reserve were experiencing anti-social behaviour and damage to the site. The youth club was approached by the reserve as they see young people being the future and getting them on board early may lead to a lifelong appreciation of the reserve. All the young people from Tanhouse Youth Club live locally to the reserve, so they were the obvious group to engage.
Since forming the partnership, regular activities have taken place including bird box making, bat and moth walks, pond dipping, orienteering and bush craft. The relationship between the young people and the reserve is really positive and the young people’s respect for the nature and wildlife is amazing. Nadia Shaikh, Community and Volunteer Development Officer at the reserve said,” We have received heritage lottery funding through a project called ‘Breathing Life into Sandwell Valley’, and with this, we planned to engage with more young people than ever. We knew that Tanhouse youth club was on the doorstep, so saw this as a great way of engaging with local young people and getting them interested in what we do here. To celebrate how far we have come and to acknowledge just how important local young people are to the reserve, we officially opened the new visitor centre, Nature’s Reach, and we asked one of the youth club members to cut the ribbon”.
Steve Walker, Senior Youth Officer from Sandwell’s Young People’s Services said, “You can really see the young people taking an interest in the local environment and wanting to take an active part in the future development of the reserve. Young people are also able to develop new skills along the way. We have got a strong relationship with the RSPB at the reserve and it was brilliant that one of our young members, Kyle Bromwich who is 12, was chosen to officially open the new visitor centre”.