The volunteers were participating in the Discovering Black Down Youth Project that is part of the Mendip Hills AONB’s Discovering Black Down Project. Tasks such as building a board walk across a muddy section of ground, coppicing, scrub clearance from archaeological sites and fixing and re-hanging gates have all made a significant difference to the area.
Somerset Rural Youth Project’s, Project Leader Barney Simmons who led the group said “I have been really impressed with how the young people have worked and applied themselves. A lot of the work was quite physical and took place during the winter months but the young people rolled their sleeves and worked hard to get the jobs done.”
Discovering Black Down Project Officer, Stuart Bardsley, said “It was great to see young people putting in so much hard work and effort to help look after this protected landscape and also learning new skills to help them in their future careers.”
Comments from the young people who participated included – “I learnt how to organise and work in a team to get tasks done. I also learnt how the environment works and what needs to be done for visitors and tourists” and “It was mostly good fun.”
Somerset Rural Youth Project’s (SRYP) Green Activity Program (GAP) has been running volunteering projects for young people over the last three years. The projects are focused on countryside management skills and are based on the Black Down and Burrington Commons. GAP has been working in partnership with Job Centre Plus, local volunteer centres, the YMCA, SRYP’S Rural Employment and Learning (REAL) team and the Mendip Hills AONB Unit to offer volunteering opportunities to unemployed young people from areas surrounding the Mendip Hills.
Discovering Black Down is a three year project (2013-2016) funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project raises awareness of the wildlife and archaeological value of the Black Down and Burrington Commons through activities, events and training.