Children and young people get back to nature

Posted: 09/03/20

Children and young people at Ferndene in Prudhoe have been getting back to nature, thanks to the addition of a new bird hide.

The bird hide, which has been funded by the family of a patient who stayed at the old Prudhoe Hospital site, will allow patients to observe wildlife at close range and learn more about the environment around them.

Set in the grounds at Ferndene, the bird hide was made by the woodwork department at Northgate Hospital, another site belonging to Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), a provider of mental health and learning disability services.

The money donated will also go towards bird feeders for the nearby trees and fact sheets so that the young people can learn about the different birds and wildlife at the site.

Bridget Lawson, activities coordinator at Ferndene, said: “We wanted to use the money donated for something special that the young people would be able to use. Many of the children here have grown up in urban areas and haven’t had the opportunity to get outside and really enjoy nature.

“The bird hide is something that can be enjoyed by everyone, meaning they can have the benefits of learning outside while still being safe on site.”

Ferndene’s grounds are becoming something of a woodland hideaway, with a fire pit, wooden seating and a willow classroom. As well as bird spotting, the hide has also been used for mindfulness sessions thanks to its tranquil spot.

The bird hide will serve as part of Ferndene’s Woods Project, which began in September 2016. Part of the young people’s weekly timetables, they have been involved in a variety of tasks including removing invasive plants and making hedgehog homes, planters and woodland seating.

The aim of the Woods Project is to inspire and encourage young people to get to know nature and have a positive experience through their surroundings.

Lisa Long, Associate Director of Specialist Children and Young People’s Services at CNTW, said: “Having something like the bird hide and the Woods Project is really beneficial for the children and young people at Ferndene. We’re blessed with our location here which enables our young people to enhance their practical skills and access opportunities they might not usually get.”

Another part of the Woods Project has seen staff and children at Ferndene plant 120 trees from the Woodland Trust in an effort to help the environment and keep the site as green as possible, with plans to plant a further 150 trees this month.

Ferndene is part of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW). It provides assessment and treatment for young people who have complex health, behavioural and emotional needs, including young people with a disability.