30 March 2023

Thousands of people have been inspired to connect and engage with the great outdoors, thanks to the Government-funded Connecting Communities project.

We were awarded a grant from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund for our Connecting Communities project, which aimed to connect, engage and inspire more people to access, care for, and play their role in protecting the environment.

As part of the project, which ran from November 2021 to March 2023, we recruited three young people aged 18 to 25 to join us as Trainee Environment and Engagement Rangers. The trainees developed and delivered engagement and conservation activities with community groups and volunteers. They also developed their skills and experience in environmental management and conservation of habitats and species.

During the project, over 4,400 people attended 62 events across the region including family activity days, nature trails, conservation sessions and bushcraft skills. Most of the events took place at Tamar Lakes in North Cornwall, Wistlandpound in North Devon and Stithians Lake in West Cornwall.

Those who benefited from the project included Ukrainian refugees living with host families in North Devon, through a new partnership with Community Environmental Educational Therapy CIC, and local families, schools and youth groups.  Others were referred by healthcare professionals and joined ‘Woodland Wellness’ sessions to help boost their mental and physical wellbeing.

South West Lakes Chief Executive James Platts said: “The vision for the Connecting Communities project was to inspire more people to access, care for, and play their role in protecting the great outdoors – and it has certainly done that. Hopefully everyone who attended an event went away feeling the physical and mental benefits of spending time in nature.”

Project lead Rick Lockwood (right) said: “The project was also about providing training and employment opportunities for young people who wish to pursue a career in the environmental sector and helping them build skills, knowledge and capacity for the future. So it’s fantastic that at the end of the project, two of the three trainees have already secured their next job in the sector – we wish all of them the best for their future careers.”

The Connecting Communities project was funded by the Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund was developed by Defra and its Arm's-Length Bodies. It is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.

About us 

We believe engaging with the natural environment enables people to grow. Our reservoirs and lakes are home to many wonderful animals and boast important habitats and built historic sites. We pride ourselves on enabling people of all abilities to enjoy these special locations by providing access both on and off the water. It’s your outdoors – come and explore.