The Nature Buddies initiative, funded by Natural England, was created as part of our Green Community Hubs programme in West Gorton, enabling residents who felt isolated to access the support they need, take part in outdoor activities, and develop skills which help their community thrive.

What is a Nature Buddy?

In early 2024 Groundwork’s Community Engagement Leads recruited volunteers from the West Gorton Green Community Hub to become Nature Buddies. These volunteers committed to attending a number of nature based activities and events in West Gorton and across Manchester.

The Nature Buddies paired up with an attendee who was typically nervous of group activities and then went out of their way to be a friendly and reliable face at all the events, helping increase participants confidence being outdoors and around new people.

The programme had 8 regular volunteers and 15 people attend as participants.

The following activities were arranged:

  • Trip to RHS Bridgewater
  • Trip to Philips Park in Prestwich
  • Trip to the Firs Botanical Garden
  • Picnic at West Gorton Park

Feedback from participants

We received very positive feedback about the Nature Buddies programme, with many participants feeling like they had a safe space to open up about their struggles and that they felt closer to their community as a result of attending.

I wish these sessions could keep going on forever!

Having social contact with people helped me with practising English and meeting people in my new community. I feel less lonely now.

I feel more connected with nature as a result of engaging with Groundwork.

Participants taking part in nature activities
Groundwork employee giving a tour of local nature
Volunteers on nature sites

Building partnerships

This programme gave us the opportunity to strengthen our partnerships with organisations including the RHS, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Manchester Urban Diggers, who hosted sessions at their community gardens.

These sessions also gave participants the opportunity to visit new places and explore new opportunity. As a result of these visits Beswick Urban Growers (part of MUD) have gained 3 new volunteers.

Local nature site polytunnel