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Kirkby kids loving life on the farm thanks to Mayor Steve Rotheram’s Community Environment Fund.

A project funded by Mayor Steve Rotheram’s Community Environment Fund giving children a taste of the great outdoors has been a big hit with youngsters from one Kirkby primary school.

The 12-week programme was created by social enterprise Fir Tree Community Growers (CIC) in St Helens who applied for a Community Environment Fund grant to give children from urban areas – where there is little green space – countryside experiences.

The Year 5 pupils from Eastcroft Park Primary School in Tower Hill in Kirkby have enjoyed being taught basic bushcraft skills, along with arts and crafts and activities such as outdoor cooking.

The project was one of 34 projects to win support from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority £500,000 Community Environment Fund for 2022/23.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“Community is the beating heart of our region. In fact, coming together for the common good is what people here do best – and I can think of no issue in greater need of a huge, collective response from our community than climate change – it is an issue for every one of us and we all have a part to play in tackling it.

“Helping residents of all ages and backgrounds to work together for the good of their neighbourhood, and our planet, is exactly why I launched my Community Environment Fund. We are investing in projects that are helping people to connect with one another and with the great outdoors – and will broaden their understanding of the place they call home.

“This is about ensuring that we leave a cleaner, greener Liverpool City Region for our children and grandchildren – and giving the next generation a stake in the future. Because I have set our region an ambitious target to be net zero by 2040, at least a decade before national government. Projects like the Community Environment Fund will have a massive part to play in helping us to smash that target.”

Grants were available for smaller projects of up to £5,000, with up to £30,000 available for larger projects.

The fund’s application criteria were decided by the Liverpool City Region Climate Partnership, which was set up to provide expert advice on tackling the climate emergency.

Jenny Griggs Director of the Fir Tree Community Growers who applied for the funding said:

“Receiving £5000 from the fund meant that we could commission the Nomad Rangers to carry out the programme of activities for the children with the support of our volunteers as well as arrange transport so that the schools didn’t have to worry about how they were going to find the budget to actually get the children here to take part.

“I started Fir Tree Growers because it’s something I strongly believe in. Seeing the children engage with nature is absolutely transformative for them and if we can play a part in opening up this world, then I feel that stays with them forever.”

The Community Environment Fund aims to improve the Liverpool City Region’s environment, develop opportunities for environmental education to encourage long-term behavioural change and promote community buy-in and participation to safeguard the long-term sustainability of quality green spaces.

Cllr David Baines, Portfolio Holder for Climate Emergency and Renewable Energy said:

“Our Community Environment Fund projects are making changes at a grassroots level. They educate and raise awareness of the issues we are trying to tackle for future generations.

“These experiences go a long way to change people’s lives and by helping our young people to become informed of the challenges we face with the climate emergency and understand the net zero agenda, we are empowering positive change.”

Use of the fund also seeks to support the Liverpool City Region becoming net zero by 2040, reduce air pollution and improve the health and wellbeing of people across the whole city region.