Making Space for Nature at Waterways Children’s Centre’s Forest School

This was such a positive experience, working together and seeing all the children with smiles on their faces!

After a successful application this year to the Making Space for Nature Community Fund, the Waterways Children’s Centre was able to expand its Forest School activities for children and families.

Shortly before the pandemic hit, they began to transform an area of land to use as a setting for Forest School activities. This enabled the Children’s Centre to remain open at times when restrictions allowed during the pandemic, offering vital support to some of the most vulnerable children in the area when they needed it most.

This year, the centre has been able to run even more outdoor activities in their Forest School, complete with a pond and mud kitchen. The activities give children and families the opportunity to learn more about nature and healthy eating while enjoying being outside and meeting new people.

Sophie Hills attends the Forest School with her daughter, Shyanna, who has a hearing impairment. Sophie explained how Sara the Forest School leader, helped her daughter settle in:

Shyanna Rose was 3 years old when we started attending these sessions. Shyanna wears a hearing aid and Sara ensured Shyanna could hear and understood all of the instructions and made her feel included. Sara is amazing at what she does. 

Evgenia Theodotou is a mum of two young boys and has been going to Waterways Children’s Centre since 2019. Recently, Evgenia has attended family outdoor activities at the Forest School with her sons and told us about her experience:

My sons are both lockdown babies so they were not used to being outdoors and getting dirty. They started slowly, but soon really enjoyed playing in the garden. Now they enjoy watering our plants at home and even water the plants for our neighbours if they look thirsty! 

The boys are now really curious about bugs and insects if we are out walking, and have learnt a lot.  I feel really blessed having this opportunity and hope we can have lots more sessions.

Sonia Srivastava is a mother and registered childminder in Thamesmead. She takes her daughter, Leela, and the children she minds to the Forest School:

During the sessions, the children planted seeds and took them home to watch them grow into sunflowers. They also learned about insects and got their hands dirty in the mud kitchen. Sonia feels the activities give the children an increased connection with and greater respect for nature.

the kids honestly get so much from it

Sonia went on to tell us about the valuable support she received when she experienced post-natal depression after giving birth to her daughter:

I am so extremely grateful for the services available to me to use as a parent and as a childminder. The Children’s Centre staff helped me so much as a new mum.

The Waterways Children’s Centre is providing a wide range of support to the community in Thamesmead. Making Space for Nature programme has been privileged to be a part of helping them expand their work and positive impact. If you would like to find out more about the Children’s Centre please visit Waterways Children’s Centre


About Making Space for Nature & CLEVER Cities

CLEVER Cities is an international project that uses nature-based solutions to address urban challenges and promote social inclusion in cities across Europe. CLEVER Cities brought the Making Space for Nature programme to Thamesmead and is supported in its delivery by Groundwork London, Peabody and the Greater London Authority. Thamesmead has nature at its heart with a huge 370 acres of green space as well as parks, canals, and waterways. The area has been chosen to be London’s CLEVER Cities representative because it is undergoing significant regeneration, providing an opportunity to test the benefits of community-co-created nature-based solutions.