Council's Countryside education ranger is a success with its housing tenants

Countryside Outreach project is helping East Devon residents benefit from fresh air and outdoor activities

The Housing and Countryside team of East Devon District Council are celebrating the success of the 2015 Countryside Outreach Project.

From November 2014 the housing revenue fund has funded a part-time Countryside Education Ranger position to work in areas of the district with high levels of social housing.

The project aims to increase the use of local green spaces as research shows that spending time outdoors helps to improve health and wellbeing for individuals, as well as providing a free and positive activity for family bonding.

Countryside Education Ranger Penny Evans, who has worked with children’s centres and community development teams to deliver the project, is delighted with the reaction of housing tenants:

Since starting the project I have run over 60 events in communities across East Devon. I’ve worked with a number of community youth groups and children’s centres, showcasing how they accessible their local green space is. It has been a pleasure to see children learning about nature and exploring their surroundings and helping parents and carers grow in confidence, so that they are able to take their children out exploring.

Penny has worked over 200 hours at events, which have been attended by over 1,600 East Devon residents. Events have included a walking and camping experience for teenagers, craft activities for children, buggy walks and nature exploration and games for toddlers and pre-school children with their carers.

Penny said:

Perhaps one of the more unusual events was ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’ held at Liverton Copse in Exmouth where young people took part in challenges including nettle eating, team building and campfire cooking. It was fantastic to see families out in the countryside together, learning something new and making friends at the same time.

Councillor Jill Elson, East Devon District Council's portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities, said:

I would like to congratulates the excellent work of this team in engaging parents with young children, as well as older children, to enjoy our great outdoors. I am sure children of our tenants have benefitted greatly from the fresh air using their energy in new activities instead of on their computer, mobile phone or tablet.

Katherine Lister from Honiton and Axe Valley Children’s Centre said:

Penny’s sessions encouraged parents to actively enjoy the outdoors with their children, through simple activities that didn’t require expensive materials, therefore being accessible to all.

Penny plans to continue her work with children’s centres and to be involved in more community events for housing tenants so that as many people as possible are able to benefit from the East Devon Countryside.

The East Devon Countryside team Spring and Summer events guide is now available to be picked-up in libraries and tourist information centre’s across East Devon.