Do you remember the first time you saw frogspawn, held a Slow-Worm, climbed a tree…?
Our My Wild Life project was delivered between 2010 and 2012 and brought together people from different generations and backgrounds to share their stories about exploring the great outdoors. Lots of people have said to us ‘There used to be newts everywhere” and told wonderful tales about rambling across fields that have since become housing estates. However, young people today have far fewer opportunities to get out and about, and to meet weird and wonderful creatures. These wild opportunities not only create brilliant memories of innocent fun, they can also trigger a compassion for wildlife that lasts a lifetime. Sharing stories about our favourite and first encounters with nature can demonstrate the changes in biodiversity and lifestyles in the UK far more effectively than statistics.
My Wild Life used a variety of methods to explore the stories of our changing countryside:
- Intergenerational events with young people and older people.
- Reminiscence picnic baskets full of items to inspire conversation, including pond dipping nets, a jar of fake frogspawn and real snake skins.
- Recorded oral history interviews to capture people’s memories about wildlife.
- Publications and website content to share these stories further.
- Fun community events celebrating our wildlife.
Target audiences included adults who may not often be given the chance to mingle with other generations or audiences that have may never have had the opportunity to get involved in traditional wildlife conservation activities. We have worked with:
- Youth groups
- Young offenders
- Church groups
- Community groups
- Retirement homes
- Sheltered accommodation
- Primary and secondary schools
- Local historians and archives
These community groups have developed a greater understanding of each other and the things that they have in common through discussions about playing outdoors (“in the wild”), and their experiences of wildlife. Reminiscing has also been a therapeutic activity for many participants as they have remembered pleasurable times. Volunteers have been involved in training to learn interview and filming and editing techniques, to create a booklet and DVD capturing and sharing the stories. We have also hosted celebration events in Peterborough, London and Glasgow to share the outcomes with participants and members of the public. The memories gathered by the project were analysed and the resulting Wild Lives Report highlights the key findings of this analysis. The report aims to inform future work in this area by providing a simple template for significant experiences with nature.
The project was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.