As January comes to a close and I watch the busy squirrels scrabbling around outside the window.  I have a few grounds and garden updates to share and a request to hear your stories about Adult Learning.

Gardening and volunteering opportunities

We have employed a professional gardener for ½ a day a week to help tidy up and get control of our borders and the gated garden.  His name is James and he is currently working on Wednesday mornings so if you see him do say hello.

James is keen to work with anyone who might like to volunteer or help out in the gardens and we are also keen to get suggestions or ideas for garden developments and projects that we could do as we move in to spring.

On the next two Wednesdays James and I will be around for a bit of a ‘gardening coffee morning’ – tea and a chat between 10.30 and 11.30.  If you fancy volunteering with James, have a suggestion or just want to say hello we would love to see you.

Wednesday 5th February 10.30-11.30 and Wed 12 February 10.30 – 12.30.

Hopefully this is the start of some projects and ideas to smarten up our garden and involve more people in the process!

The second bit of news requires a bit more information so apologies for the longer post this time.

Stoke Lodge Access Improvement Project

In October I worked with a local resident to develop an application to the Neighbourhoods and Communities team for S106 and CIL funding to provide accessible routes into the green space at Stoke Lodge.  (S106 and CIL funding is funding from local building developments that is made available for community improvements.)

We have recently learnt our project has been allocated £24,981

We summarised our project as: Stoke Lodge Access Improvement Project

Proposing to create accessible all weather routes that will improve access into the green space surrounding Stoke Lodge, in particular the arboretum area.

To ensure that disabled people, in particular wheelchair users, people with reduced mobility and parents with small children and buggies can access this local green space, make us of picnic spaces and participate in recreation activities.

Due to the nature of the space and the protected trees in the area we are proposing path options that have low environmental impact, retain the nature of the space but allow more people the opportunity to enjoy the area.

Project plan:

As part of our project bid we explained that we would take some time to consult with local residents, sharing some of the potential routes and types of paths that we could develop.  We will share with you the possible types of path, the pros and cons of each type and the costs of different paths.

Although £24,981 sounds like a lot of money, how far (literally in meters) it takes us, will depend on the path options we choose.

Once we have your feedback on those options we will draw up a final plan and share that as widely as possible.  We will then agree work with an appropriate contractor and share details of the planned work and dates.

Environmental impact:

We know you will want us to pay particular care to the wellbeing of the trees in the area and consider the environmental and visual impact of any routes.  This project is about opening up access to the natural environment for more people to enjoy.  Caring for and protecting what makes that space special will an integral part of any plans.

Next Steps:

We are currently compiling information about the various options, the different benefits and costs.  We will also measure out some routes to give an idea of the square meters needed to get around.

Once we have this information together we will be making it available online, on view at Stoke Lodge and asking for your comments.   We are also planning to hold a couple of drop in sessions for your feedback and questions.  We don’t have a favourite route or type of path yet, this consultation stage will be about exploring what will work best for improving access and for the site as a whole.

And finally… Share your Story

Many of you tell us how much you are enjoying your courses and how important to you Adult Learning is.
We are hoping to collect some personal stories that share what Adult Learning means to you and how taking part in course has impacted on your life.

So if being a learner has

  • helped you develop a skill that has changed your life
  • if you have made amazing friends and developed a new social circle
  • if your course has had a particular personal impact
  • if you are willing to share your story I would love to hear from you.

I am going to be collecting stories and, I hope, interviewing  some people to find out why Adult Learning is so important to them.  If you would like to talk to me about your experience please reply to this email or speak to someone in the office.

Kind regards