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Environment projects awarded grants from £1 million fund

Published: Wednesday 29 May 2024

Nine more environment projects have been awarded more than £400,000 from the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) Community Environment Fund.

The fund was set up by the WMCA using £1 million of Commonwealth Games legacy money to support locally led green projects that are protecting nature, reducing waste and making communities more resilient and prepared for the impacts of climate change.

Successful bids for the latest round of funding are:

  • The Active Wellbeing Society, Birmingham - £99,544 to expand its Share Shack project with repair and skill workshops at its sites across the city, helping local people to fix their own broken items such as electrical equipment and clothing – saving them from landfill.
  • Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust - £99,605 for Dudley’s Path to Nature Recovery project to help connect more people in Dudley and Sandwell to nature by creating new walking routes and improving wildlife habitats through the Black Country Geo Park.
  • Canal and River Trust - £100,000 to expand its Wild in Birmingham project to improve the natural environment with communities around sections of waterway in Birmingham, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
  • The LEAF Project (Linking Environment And Farming) - £25,000 to run farm visits and workshops for 1,200 more children at inner city schools and youth groups across Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Sandwell to improve their understanding of where food comes from and how it is produced, helping them to become conscious consumers in the future.
  • Birmingham TreePeople - £12,765 grant to train up new volunteers to accelerate its survey of the city’s 70,000 street trees to identify those in a poor condition or at the end of their natural life so they can be quickly replaced.
  • All Saints’ Action Network, Wolverhampton - £25,000 to open a Repair Café at its community hub and wood recycling centre.
  • Norton Hall Children and Family,  Birmingham - £24,825 to create a new allotment on an unused balcony at the Dolphin Women’s Centre in Ward End Park and to make improvements in the Forest School area.
  • Woodgate Valley Urban Farm,  Birmingham - £15,100 to provide new facilities and opportunities for more local people to get involved in its practical nature-based activities.
  • Holyhead Road Allotments, Coventry - £18,707 to transform an area of the site that has become water-logged due to climate change, using more sustainable practices such as habitat creation, water conservation, raised beds alongside climate adaptation workshops for allotments holders and local gardeners.

The Community Environment Fund has been made possible thanks to the £70 million Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund – the underspend from the 2022 Games that the UK Government agreed to reinvest back into the West Midlands to ensure the positive legacy is felt by as many people as possible across the region.

Richard Parker, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “There are many community groups and regional organisations doing fantastic work to protect, enhance and restore the natural environment, and it’s great news that we are able to continue to support them with grants from our Community Environment Fund.

“Being able to access nature has such a positive impact on our health and wellbeing, and it is becoming ever more urgent that we take action to rethink waste by repairing and reusing products more, and taking practical steps to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change.”

Beccy Crosby, funding and partnerships manager for the Active Wellbeing Society, said: “The Share Shacks have been able to demonstrate how they improve individual and community wellbeing as well as contribute to environmental sustainability.

“By continuing and expanding repair sessions through WMCA funding, we are helping to reduce waste from landfill and support people to develop skills, build connections and save money by alleviating the pressure to purchase items new that are not used regularly or cost prohibitive.”

Norman Dandy, director of nature recovery for Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust, said: “The funding we’ve secured from the WMCA will enable us to champion Dudley’s wildlife, and support our local community to connect with it more strongly.

"We’ll be working with the borough council and other local organisations to restore areas of nature across the town’s hills, from Sedgley Beacon down to the Rowley Hills. Walking will be a central part of our work - it's a fantastic way for people to connect to nature and to discover new areas to visit on their doorsteps.”

Carl Edwards, director for education and public engagement for LEAF, said: “This grant will enable us to provide experiential learning opportunities for children living in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Sandwell.

“As a result of this work, children will develop a greater understanding of where their food comes from and how to live sustainably. They’ll return home with a new appreciation for food, a passion for the countryside and plenty of ideas of simple actions they can take to protect our environment. For some children, it will be the first time they’ve ever visited a working farm – a real 'wow' moment!”

Nina Griffiths, manager of the street tree survey for Birmingham TreePeople, said: “It's great that we've been able to expand our work thanks to the Community Environment Fund grant.

“We're trying to work out why some of our street trees don't grow very well so that we can make sure that in the future every street tree that we plant will flourish. We've got some enthusiastic volunteers already on the programme and would love to have some more people join us - you'll learn about trees, meet other volunteers and contribute to the research on street trees.”

Community groups and regional organisations can still bid to the Community Environment Fund. Heart of England Community Foundation is managing the online portal and supporting the application and appraisal process.

Find out how to apply on the WMCA website.

Recipients of the first round of grants from the WMCA's Community Environment Fund were announced in March, details on the WMCA website.

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