The South East Rivers Trust, a grassroots environmental charity working to improve rivers in areas including south London, Surrey, Berkshire, Sussex, Kent and Hampshire, has launched an online programme providing activities, challenges and information to help you stay connected to nature during lockdown.
Hosted largely on a new Facebook Group – the SERT River Club – the Trust is creating and publishing a wide variety of content to reach out to its followers during the Covid-19 lockdown. The aim of this group is to help everyone stay connected to nature while they are social distancing at home. This group will help people stay involved in helping their local river, provide opportunities to chat to other like-minded people and learn new and interesting things, all from the comfort and safety of their homes.
A key part of the new SERT River Club content is a webinar series called “The Story of Rivers”. This series features short, 20-minute episodes which explain what healthy rivers look like, why we need them, the pressures and issues that rivers are facing and what the Trust is doing to bring them back to life. A new episode is aired each Tuesday on Facebook and the archive is available on the Trust’s YouTube channel.
Dr. Bella Davies, Director of the South East Rivers Trust, said: “For us, engaging with the local community is key. In the current situation, our usual engagement activities such as river cleanup events, volunteering days and citizen science are just not possible. However, we still wanted a way to reach out to our followers and volunteers. Our webinar series is a great way to do this. It brings people back to the basics of rivers and how they function, building a foundation of understanding on which to showcase the many different projects we have been doing over the years – from river restoration to constructed wetlands to weir removals to natural flood management. The list goes on!”
Another consequence of the lockdown is many parents finding themselves juggling working from home, as well as providing at-home education for their children. To support people in this daunting task, the Trust has developed a home school version of its school education programme – Project Kingfisher.
Charlene Duncan, Education and Community Outreach Officer at the Trust explains: “While all of our home sessions revolve around a river theme, we have designed the activities to cover a range of skills from dancing to writing techniques, meeting many different requirements of the National Curriculum. The varied tasks each include easy-to-follow instructions that make the activities engaging and fun. We are even offering teacher feedback – just post your creations on the SERT River Club page and I will provide feedback as a virtual teacher!”
Rivers have been inspiring people for millennia. Building on this, the Trust has been encouraging everyone across our area to get creative, posting a new art challenge each week. The art posted to the Facebook group in response has been amazing. Polly Penn, Head of the Education & Engagement Team at the Trust, said: “We’ve have been blown away by the art submitted to us by our followers. It has been lovely to see people being inspired by rivers and the wildlife that call them home, even when we are unable to visit them as much as we would like. One of my favourites is a painting of European eel elvers by one of our volunteers, Kim Warner Spickett. When posting it, Kim stated how she would really love to see a shoal of elvers in her local river, the Hogsmill. We love hearing about wishes like this, because the work we’re doing across all our rivers is designed to help them come true.”
The SERT River Club is totally free for anyone to join, so check it out by visiting The SERT River Club.