Groundwork: Caring for Hertfordshire
PUBLISHED: 10:59 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 20 February 2013
As Groundwork Hertfordshire celebrates its 25th anniversary this year we look back at some of its highlights
AS one of the countys leading environmental charities, Groundwork has not stood still since its inception in 1985. It has evolved to become an organisation that works to change the lives of people in the county as well as the place itself. Groundworks projects involve local communities in improving their immediate environment; they give young people the skills and confidence to influence their own futures; they provide opportunities for those needing a helping hand back into the employment market; they help businesses to invest in their local area and they work to ensure everyone who lives in the county has access to good quality, safe green space.
Demand for their unique ability to work alongside the whole community, to transform places and lives, will inevitably increase in the year ahead, with the current economic situation hitting our most vulnerable communities the hardest. Groundwork is in a strong position to respond with an innovative and highly successful range of training and employment programmes whilst focussing on the quality of places where people live, work and play.
Groundworks origins can be traced back to the late 1970s, when the Countryside Commission was looking at ways to improve the physical environment of the urban fringe. The trusts role was to bring together a partnership of public, private and voluntary sector interests in a co-ordinated effort to upgrade the environment, to realise the full potential of under-used land, to convert waste ground to productive use and improve access to the countryside. Today Groundwork has evolved into an environmental charity that still addresses these issues, but now also works to give skills and training to disadvantaged young people and has a successful environmental education and youth programme.
With partnerships with local authorities, companies and a wide range of funders, in 2008/9, Groundwork planted over 4,500 trees; improved 500,000m of land; involved over 2,200 young people, 1,400 adults, 78 schools and 400 partners.
1985 Trust commenced operations on 3 September.
1987 The Trust launched its Free Tree Scheme after the 1987 storms destroyed 100,000 trees in the county.
1989 Work begins in partnership with Thames Water to create the New River Path a continuous walking route from Hertfordshire to London.
1990 Over 1,000 volunteers took part in the Trusts Tidy County 90 campaign as part of Tidy Britain Year, sponsored by Tesco.
1997 Work at the Waterford Heath Nature Reserve, near Hertford begins, to improve public access and enhance its ecological value.
1998 Groundwork began work on improving the Alban Way, linking St Albans and Hatfield with a trail for cyclists and walkers along the route of the old railway line, including the creation of the Camp Road Bridge.
2001 As part of the opening celebrations for Waterford Heath, Groundwork hosted a schools day where over 150 local school pupils took part in environmental activities.
2006 Consultations began on designing a new community garden, play areas and community resource for the Grange in Letchworth Garden City following a successful live television vote on GMTV for Lottery funding.
2008 The completed sensory garden at Clarence Park, St Albans was recognised in the East of Englands Regional Council Equalities Award Scheme and in 2009 selected as a finalist for the Diversity Achievement of the Year Award.
2009 Mind, Body & Soil, Groundworks horticultural therapy project, was selected as a finalist from 220 entries within the 2009 East of England Health and Social Care Awards.
2009 Volunteers from Groundwork attended a reception at No. 10 Downing Street hosted by the Prime Minister to celebrate their contribution to the environment.
2009 The Children & Young People of Westmill (CAYPOW) committee, a group started and supported by Groundwork, broke new ground by hosting a community radio station with over 10,000 listeners in and around the Hitchin area.
Looking to the future
Groundwork plans to create a new environmental centre at Bayfordbury (near Hertford) in partnership with the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust and the University of Hertfordshire. This initiative will enable the Trust to move forward confidently in its second quarter century, well equipped to play a vital role in the creation of a vibrant and sustainable society.