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Site Visit: Wilder Walkmill

The Evaluator is delighted to be working with a new client, West Cumbria Rivers Trust to develop and write an evaluation framework for the nature site, and former colliery, Walkmill in Cumbria.

The site is currently used a lot by dog walkers and nature lovers, and has some quite unusual wildlife include rare dragonflies and adders. It is the site of a former colliery and we are excited to figure out how to link the industrial heritage into our evaluation plans. You can see more about West Cumbria Rivers Trust at their website here. 

We started this project with a site visit to chat to the main project team, and meet the consultants working on heritage interpretation, Minerva Heritage. We quickly found out we both are very keen on working WITH people, rather than FOR people and are looking forward to getting to know more about interpretation. You can see more about Minerva Heritage at their website here. 

It just happened to be a gloriously sunny day, what a wonderful way to start a project!

Image of site, Walkmill in Cumbria.

New Client: VocalEyes

The Evaluator is delighted to be working with a new client, VocalEyes. We are going to be working with VocalEyes to evaluate their Heritage Access 2022 project.

An ambitious project working with 50 volunteers, Heritage Access 2022, will support and train volunteer access researchers in a large-scale digital volunteering project that will benefit over 3,000 heritage sites in the UK and their visitors.

VocalEyes (great name!) helps bring arts and culture to life for blind and visually impaired people. They support arts and heritage venues through audio description services, training, consultancy and advice. You can see more about VocalEyes on their website here. 

New Client; Ribble Rivers Trust

The Evaluator is delighted to be working with a new client, The Ribble Rivers Trust.

Ribble Rivers Trust is a UK based charity working to improve, protect and promote the River Ribble for both people and wildlife.  We are based in Clitheroe, an ancient market town at the heart of the Ribble Valley, and work with the public and many organisations to deliver river improvements across the entire Ribble catchment.

We are working with them to summarise a large five year project into one final evaluation. This involves categorising documentation, running statistical analysis, carrying out staff and partner interviews, designing gap analysis materials, and collating all of the information into one, visual and easy to read evaluation. 

Ribble Life Together has been running since 2016 and is a large, complex project, which worked with young people, schools, farmers, scientists, and lots of volunteers and partner organisations too. It’s a big story to tell the impact of. 

New Client; Durham Wildlife Trust

The Evaluator is delighted to work with a new partner, Durham Wildlife Trust, for their Green Recovery funded programme, Healing Nature.

Durham Wildlife Trust (their website is here) explains…

“Government funding from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund has enabled the Trust to form a Healing Nature project team, tasked with protecting and ecologically restoring important habitats, including grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands. The team includes three new full-time posts, three part-time posts and four trainees, recruited through the Kickstart programme. They will work alongside volunteers to restore the sites and create more resilient conditions for a rich variety of wildlife.

The work will include woodland management, pond restoration, grassland management, scrub clearance, and planting hedges. Healing Nature will also have a significant impact on communities, making sure residents are better connected to their local wildlife sites. This will include new paths, gates, and signage to make the sites more welcoming and easier to use.

Furthermore, the Trust will also arrange activities and events – both face to face and online – to encourage community groups, families, young people and local residents to get involved, as well as delivering educational sessions at schools.”

This is a slightly unusual evaluation, as we are working with another evaluator, Simon Lees, from Countryside Training Partnership (their website is here) who are doing the overall evaluation, and we are providing a series of quick turnabout practical feedback loops regarding the work they are doing with people. We are happy to work flexibly like this if it is what suits the client best. 

We’ll be figuring out what people are experiencing in the project activities, how its helping them connect to nature, what it is doing for wellbeing, and how they are hearing about it. Learning more about their audiences, means the trust can plan better programmes in future, and know what works, and what still needs a tweak. It’s all about making data-driven-decisions. It’s also all about people, and that’s the work that gets us excited! 

Winter sign up for ’72 Seasons’ is now open

72 Seasons is open for Winter sign ups.

Image saying 72 seasons now open for winter

 

Would you like to join us? Would you like to take part in a creative and relaxed wellbeing project and come and seek the seasons with us?

It is all completely free, this research is part of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership range of projects, and is funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

People who have taken part this year have described the project as:

“A really interesting way to enjoy nature even more, and an opportunity to easily learn and engage with others in a relaxed way. Brilliant!”

“Very enlightening and I notice more of what’s going on around me”

“Really enjoying it. I have been much restricted in getting out and about because a very ill husband who is shielding. The project is a chance to make me watch the changes from the garden.”

 

All you have to do, is be willing to look around you as you go about your daily life, just from your windows if needed, or as you walk to the corner shop and back. You do not have to be able to travel far or be able to climb Pendle Hill. The whole project takes place through email and surveys, and we have a private Facebook group where people can connect with other seasonal seekers, and share their photographs but you do not have to join the Facebook group. The project is open to anyone who travels/ works/ or lives near to Pendle Hill.

If you want to join us, just send an email to kirsty@theevaluator.co.uk saying your first name and the word join, and we’ll take it from there.

New Client; Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

We are delighted to be working with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council on their Townscape Heritage Project, Blakey Moor.

The Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage Project is an ambitious £3 million joint investment by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This heritage-led regeneration project is working to transform the historic heart of Blackburn around King George’s Hall and is focused on Blakey Moor, Northgate and Lord Street West.

The Project aims to restore and refurbish historic buildings, improve public spaces and provide local people with opportunities for training in traditional building skills. A programme of complementary events and activities has been taking place alongside the building work and the area’s rich history and heritage used to strengthen its unique identity, attract visitors and promote opportunities in the area.

The Evaluator is working with the project team to evaluate the whole programme over the next 18 months or so, our timetables are flexible to allow for changes due to Covid-19 restrictions. The team includes council staff, architects, local creative folk, residents, businesses, shoppers, students, and is a wide ranging creative evaluation, designed to suit the creative elements of the project itself.

New Client; Crafting the future

Introducing 72 Seasons

72 Seasons is a research project all about noticing the seasons change and measuring how it makes people feel when they are more connected to nature.

During 2020 The Evaluator is working with a team of volunteers, ‘Seasonal Seekers’ who agree to fill in some research questionnaires and then seek the changes in nature. During 2020 we no longer have just four seasons around Pendle Hill (Lancashire, England) but 72 and our team of volunteers try and spot the changes in nature every 4 or 5 days. By the end of the year, we will have 72 agreed seasons and a deeper understanding of the ways in which being connected to nature affect health and wellbeing.

Inspired by the ancient Japanese calendar of 72 seasons, but updated and adapted for our climate, 72 Seasons is an active research project which can all be done online and is continuing during the Coronavirus outbreak.

We are working with local artist Cath Ford, who is drawing the seasons for us.

Volunteers are welcome to join at four points during the year, the start of Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. Feel free to drop us an email at kirsty@theevaluator.co.uk if you want us to tell you when sign ups open. 

This project is part of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership range of projects. You can learn more about all the others here.