Grant will enable expansion of Dunston Activity Centre

Dunston Activity Centre is a vibrant centre at the heart of the community of Dunston, offering a space for people to meet, socialise, exercise and learn new skills.

Although the centre is well used, unfortunately it has often has to turn new groups away due to a lack of available space.

Thanks to a funding from Biffa Award, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, it can now create a third community room, opening up more opportunities for the community and accommodating new groups and activities.

As well as hosting a fully fitted gym and library, the centre is also used by a whole range of community groups including a companion group, exercise classes, martial arts groups, preschool activities, slimming groups, baby ballet and NHS cardio rehabilitation, blood donation and diabetes groups.

Edmund Nichols, Chair of Trustees:

“With the generous support of Biffa Award our local community will benefit greatly from the creation of a new community room at Dunston Activity Centre. We can now meet the demand for quality accommodation for new activities and community groups of all ages.”

Brenda Clelland, Ward Councillor for Dunston and the Teams:

“I’m absolutely delighted to hear that Biffa Award has so kindly funded the creation of a new, useful community room. The creation of this room is a much-needed increase in space available and will help Dunston Activity Centre to remain at the heart of the local community, doing what it does best – helping local people stay physically fit and healthy, and offering activities and creative opportunities to nurture and support their mental health and wellbeing. The whole community will join me in saying a big thank you to Biffa Award.”

Rachel Maidment, Biffa Award Grants Manager:

“It is so important that we keep investing in community buildings which provide a space for people to meet, socialise and learn new skills. It is great to have been able to fund the new community space at Dunston Activity Centre, enabling even more people to use this vital facility.”

Woodland Trust Northern Ireland branches out

The Woodland Trust Northern Ireland today has announced it has acquired new land in the Belfast Hills. Thanks to funding from Biffa Award and NIEA, the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity has taken ownership of 98 hectares next to Cave Hill Country Park, with plans to conserve and restore the site. The charity plans to open the woodland to the public for free, once works are completed on site.

Northern Ireland currently has the lowest tree cover within Europe, with just 8% cover; of which 4% are native trees and 0.04% is ancient woodland. The Woodland Trust aims to create new native woodland for wildlife, people and the climate. Biffa Award is a multi-million-pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives by awarding grants to communities and environmental projects across the UK.

Ian McCurley, Director of Woodland Trust Northern Ireland:

“We want to thank Biffa Award who have donated £550,000 and NIEA who have funded £50,000 allowing the Woodland Trust to purchase the land in Belfast Hills. This is an incredible investment, and we are excited about the opportunity to create a new native woodland within a short drive of the population of greater Belfast, Newtownabbey and South Antrim.
“To be able to create woodlands on this scale means more for nature, more for climate change and more for people. We need to rapidly increase tree cover to help reach net zero carbon emissions and tackle the declines in wildlife. We want to conserve the land in the Belfast Hills and restore it to a beautiful habitat for people and nature.”

Rachel Maidment: Biffa Award Grants Manager:

“Biffa Award is extremely privileged to be able to support the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland’s project to purchase 247 acres of land at Cavehill Wood to support woodland creation, improve existing habitats and create new habitats. It is hugely important that Biffa Award continues to fund projects which seek to restore, protect and enhance habitats for a wide range of wildlife. Through our Partnership Grants Scheme we are able to make significant grants to projects that introduce, conserve or protect our wildlife, paving the way for nature’s recovery on a large scale.”

The new site borders Cave Hill Country Park, which attracts over 270,000 visitors every year from Belfast and the surrounding areas and will link existing pathways through Divis and the Belfast Hills. It will also be the final piece of the jigsaw linking current Woodland Trust sites at Carnmoney Hill, Monkstown Wood and Throne Wood, providing free outdoor spaces for the local community in North Belfast, Newtownabbey, South Antrim and the greater Belfast area.

The news comes after the charity committed to planting 50 million more trees in the UK by 2025 to help tackle climate change.

Mini-beasts receive major boost

Millions of mini-beasts in South Devon are set to benefit from improvements to their nature reserve homes after local charity, Devon Wildlife Trust, secured a £41,000 grant from Biffa Award; a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund.

The project, which is called Helping Habitats in South Devon’s Invertebrates, is taking a local approach to a national problem: the alarming declines in insect populations. It plans to do this by improving many of the most important places where mini-beasts live, including heathlands, meadows, woodlands and freshwater streams/ponds.

A host of insect species stand to benefit. These include some of the county’s rarest species such as the high-brown fritillary butterfly, Kugelann’s green clock beetle, the narrow-headed ant and the heath-potter wasp. Countless other more common species including moths, damselflies and bumblebees will also prosper.

Eleven of Devon Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves in South Devon and Dartmoor will form the focus of extensive practical work to create better homes for insects. Highlights will include the restoration of wildflower-rich grasslands over more than 30 hectares at Emsworthy Mire, Dart Valley and Blackadon nature reserves (all on Dartmoor), and Chudleigh Knighton Heath, Bovey Heathfield, Dunsford and Wolborough Fen nature reserves (all in South Devon).

At Teigngrace Meadow nature reserve, near Bovey Tracey, 1.5 hectares of woodland will be coppiced with trees being cutback to encourage new growth, while 4.5 hectares of wildflower meadows at the Trust’s Woodah Farm will be restored. At the charity’s Little Bradley Ponds and Lower East Lounston nature reserves the water quality of ponds and streams will be improved with the installation of separate drinking facilities for grazing cattle.

The project is being overseen by Devon Wildlife Trust’s experienced nature reserve team. But local people are also set to play a crucial part with 35 volunteers set to carry out vital conservation tasks including scrub management, wildflower seed spreading and wildlife monitoring.

Matt Boydell leads Devon Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves’ team:

“Support from Biffa Award will have a really positive impact on insects and other wildlife at our nature reserves. It will help us provide the right conditions for beetles, butterflies, dragonflies, ants and others to flourish in. Together the eleven nature reserves will provide a network of sites for mini-beasts to use and move between. This kind of conservation at a landscape scale is vital if we’re to begin to see insects recover in numbers and diversity.”

Rachel Maidment, Biffa Award Grants Manager:

“It is hugely important that Biffa Award continues to fund biodiversity projects like this one by Devon Wildlife Trust which seeks to help reverse the increasing decline of invertebrates at sites across South Devon and beyond. The project will not only benefit some of the county’s rarest species across more than 6 hectares of land, it will also help to pave the way for Nature’s Recovery.”

Scotter Children set to Celebrate New Play Area

Scotter War Memorial Playing Fields Committee has secured £123,000 towards a desperately needed brand new play area for the children of the parish. It has come after years of community events, fundraising and volunteering to work out what the children of the parish wanted and how much this would cost.

The play area, which was awarded funding under Biffa Award’s Recreation theme, will aim to create a new Toddler and Junior Children’s Play Area in Scotter, including a fantastic double zip line for older children.

The existing play area is over 25 years old and has made thousands of children happy throughout its life but is now ready to be replaced with new, more exciting play equipment that children of all ages will enjoy for years to come.

Scotter War Memorial Playing Fields Committee have secured £70,000 from Biffa Award; a multi-million-pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF).

Members of Scotter War Memorial Playing Fields Committee have been working hard over the past 3 years: – consulting with the local parents and children, designing the new play area based on the most popular views, applying for grants and organising lockdown fundraising events such as the 2020 Scotter Scarecrow competition and the 2020 Scotter Duck Race on the River Eau.

Martin Ely from Scotter War Memorial Playing Fields:

“We are delighted to have finally secured enough money to build our new play area for generations of children to come. We really hope they all enjoy the fantastic new equipment and it brings smiles and laughter to them for years to come”.

Rachel Maidment, Biffa Award Grants Manager:

“At times like this it is more important than ever that we continue to support projects that build our communities, like this new play area for the children of Scotter in Lincolnshire. Hopefully in the not too distant future we will be able to see children enjoying the new facilities.”