Local Communities Empowered to Help Nature Flourish Across Dacorum

Living Magazines Nextdoor Nature Dacorum Lea Ellis

Nextdoor Nature is bringing communities together to help nature flourish where they live and work. Thanks to £5million funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Nextdoor Nature will provide people with the advice and support they need to help nature on their doorstep, and leave a lasting natural legacy to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Communities in Dacorum District will benefit from the initiative, which recognises that people can play a vital role in helping to solve the climate crisis and restoring our natural world, and aims to make sure that everyone, no matter where they live, can be part of this crucial movement and make the most of access to nature.

Nextdoor Nature in Dacorum is being delivered by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, who already have a strong track record of supporting local communities with wildlife projects. The funding from The National Lottery has enabled the Trust to employ Lea Ellis (pictured) as a ‘Wilder Communities Officer’ for the Dacorum District.

Talking about the project, Lea commented: ‘We know that people want to take action to improve their neighbourhoods but often it’s hard to know where to start. Nextdoor Nature will let communities say what they would like to see. I’m here to listen, to offer suggestions, if needed, to explore possibilities, to bring positivity and enthusiasm, and to ultimately help people to see just how important they are in shaping our world. I’d love to hear from people who are already doing small (or big) things in their neighbourhoods and get them to help me spread this positivity.’

She continues, ‘Since the pandemic, we are all more aware of how important it is to have an outdoor environment that we can all easily get to – a park, a wood, a front garden or balcony. A bit of fresh air, listening to the wind in the trees, or watching sparrows chattering in a hedge connects us with nature and improves how we feel.

‘There are already many people involved in community projects; I’d like to connect these people up with others who are like-minded and who are keen to get more involved.’

Lea, whose past experience includes youth work and a range of community engagement roles with people from all walks of life recognises the importance of working alongside existing agencies to refer people to the right sources of support and information, for example, Community Action Dacorum and Citizens Advice. She is looking to hear from anyone living or working in the Dacorum area who would like to feel that they can do something positive for the environment. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Individuals, groups and businesses
  • Schools, colleges and other educational groups and organisations
  • Under-represented groups in Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring and Kings Langley, as well as outlying villages across the Dacorum District.

A ‘Wilder Dacorum’ could, for example, see more people starting to grow their own vegetables and flowers, schools rewild their grounds, businesses or groups turn highly urbanised or unused areas into natural spaces for wildlife and communities to enjoy. The exciting thing about the project is anything is possible and that everyone has the power to make a positive change.

Lea Ellis, will be interviewed live on Radio Dacorum on Wednesday 16 November at 7pm, talking more about the Wilder Dacorum project and some of her favourite musical tracks. To listen in go to www.radiodacorum.org.uk.

Anyone interested in finding out more or wanting help or advice on individual, group or business wild projects, please email wildersupport@hmwt.org.