Working to connect families with nature | Urban Nature Project

Over the past year, the Museum’s Urban Nature Project (UNP) team have been working on a project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Thanks to money from National Lottery players, we’ve been able to support members of the Museum’s local community during lockdown at the same time as learning how best to create relevant nature-based activities for families.

Lauren Hyams, Head of Urban Nature Activities, and Harriet Fink, Learning and Volunteer Programme Manager talk about how they provided new opportunities for the Museum’s  local community and the UNP to connect during an incredibly challenging time.

Building partnerships in our local area

Lauren explains, ‘We want to work together with local families as we develop our community and family activities to make sure what we produce is relevant and engaging. We have been connecting with local community partners to help shape what goes into the new activities, what stories of people, plants and animals should be shared, and how the activities should look and feel.

‘Throughout the development process we have been keen to include the voices of the families who live in our local area. We wanted to learn more about their interactions and attitudes toward local nature to help us understand how we should talk about urban nature in a way to make it feel more exciting and accessible.’

Supporting families in lockdown to connect to nature

Harriet says, ‘In August 2020, we collaborated with Meanwhile Gardens, a community garden in North Kensington, to create and distribute 200 activity packs for families with children aged up to six who pre-Covid19 were regularly visiting the Gardens. As part of our response to the pandemic, we joined forces with Meanwhile to create activities for local children to make nature more relevant every day, boost their well being and connect to nature.

‘Families were sent a box of specially created activity ideas and resources based around two stories; a book written about Meanwhile Gardens and a story of Anancy and his Six Sons, which is part of an oral story telling tradition from West Africa  and the Caribbean.’

The nature-based activity packs were exceptionally well-received by local parents:

“What an amazing surprise, it was absolutely fantastic when we opened our gift box yesterday.”

“I just wanted to say a BIG thank you for our surprise box! My son was so excited to receive an unexpected delivery from the Postman!”

“Just wanted to say a massive thank you to you all. It was such a lovely surprise to receive this, the boxes are brilliant and well needed at the moment. So great to have a load of new activities to do!! And my son is so interested in it all. We are doing all of the activities, he’s learning and it’s fun. He went to sleep with his pinecone spider last night… that’s how much he loves it!”

Thanks to National Lottery players and The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we’ve been able to help families in the Museum’s local community during lockdown and learn how to engage even more local community groups to participate in nature-based activities and connect with the nature on their doorsteps.

Next steps

We look forward to more families joining Anancy the Spider, as he weaves his way around the wisdom of the world through activities and stories about trees in our transformed garden in 2023.  

More from the Urban Nature Project

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