BLOG: Community spirit – working in partnership to create greener spaces

Authored by Peter Mather and Chris Webb, Founding Partners at Firethorn Trust.

At Firethorn Trust we are committed to setting the highest standards for sustainability across all of our developments, helping us to create spaces that positively impact people and places. But to deliver truly innovative logistics spaces that can enact long-term change, we must go beyond the development itself and think further afield: to the very heart of the local communities in which we build.

By understanding the individual needs of neighbouring towns and cities, we can go beyond the scope of a traditional build and leave a legacy that benefits the local population long after a project has reached completion. And by implementing change at a grass-roots level, we can help tackle some of the most pressing issues facing communities today.

Improving the quality and abundance of local green spaces, and ensuring communities have greater access to the health and economic benefits they bring, is of paramount importance. From parks and playgrounds to wildlife reserves and gardens, these natural spaces can become the focal-point of a community – helping to foster and encourage new friendships, partnerships and networks of support at every level.

Spending time outdoors and in nature has been proven to improve people’s mental health and general well-being, and protecting green spaces and local biodiversity is also a crucial element in preserving the wider health of the planet and the animal and plant species on which we all depend.

That’s why Firethorn has embarked upon a long-term charitable partnership with Groundwork to deliver a community programme across the UK, supporting local initiatives in the areas in which we build.

By working in close collaboration with Groundwork’s teams on the ground and listening to the needs of local people, we can help create bespoke community programmes that deliver economic, social and environmental benefit.

We are currently supporting six community projects in Leighton Buzzard, Peterborough, Ellesmere Port, Sherburn-in-Elmet, Barnsley and Northampton and it has been incredibly rewarding to see the immediate impact of this important partnership. It’s evident that when we work together to invest in local areas, and level up everyone’s access to quality green spaces, the benefits can be felt at every level of the community.

Achievements within the first three months of our partnership include:

  • 3 primary schools in Ellesmere Port supported with Forest School activity – including the creation of dedicated green spaces within school grounds – with 48 sessions delivered and 96 pupils participating
  • 1 brand-new community food growing garden in Leighton Buzzard, with 66 hours of volunteer activity on site
  • 18 family ‘wild play’ sessions in Peterborough – delivering outdoor natural play and activities – with 120 local families participating
  • 20 activity sessions delivered in Sherburn-in-Elmet and Barnsley, supporting Forest School activity and Alternative Curriculum learning focused on the environment and developing Green Skills

The community food growing garden in Leighton Buzzard transformed a previously empty green space.

Wild Play session at the Leighton Buzzard community garden.

We believe that every industrial development should transform from a plan on paper to a meaningful part of the community, and we’re proud to work in partnership with Groundwork to ensure a positive and tangible legacy for every Firethorn build – one that can help ensure a brighter and greener future for us all.