Sea-Changers is thrilled to announce the very first grant award recipients for our new Marine Conservation Social Fund. The aim of this exciting new fund is to support socially beneficial marine conservation approaches and solutions. We were thrilled to have a wide range of innovative, thoughtful and important projects apply to the fund making the grants panel role in determining the successful projects, extremely tough. We are confident that the six projects chosen will have a significant impact over the coming twelve months and hopefully beyond.
It is well documented that engagement with blue spaces can have a hugely positive impact on wellbeing. It is also the case that volunteering has both individual and community cohesion benefits. It is hoped this new fund will enable projects to achieve marine conservation outcomes, alongside social, health and /or well-being benefits for the targeted individuals and communities that participate. The 2021 Fund totals £23,000 and is made possible by a single donation to Sea-Changers.
The inaugural funding application round attracted some outstanding applications from a range of organisations across the UK. After careful deliberation the following projects were awarded grants:
Dee Estuary Wellbeing with Nature Project – Cheshire Wildlife Trust
A new structured and supported coastal volunteering programme designed to connect communities to their coastal wildlife, improve participant health and wellbeing, facilitate engagement with the Dee Estuary and act as a launchpad for future personal opportunities. Activities will be coordinated by the Conservation and Volunteering Officer and will involve the delivery of two 6-week structured and supported Wellbeing with Nature volunteering programmes covering both the English and Welsh shores of the Dee Estuary for a total of 24 participants. The Conservation and Volunteering Officer will receive specialist training and be supported by a Wellbeing with Nature practitioner to ensure these programmes meet the needs of the participants and provide an enjoyable experience, for what for many will be their first time engaging with the Dee Estuary.
The Ocean Well Being project - Clean Ocean Sailing
The Ocean Well Being project brings together marine conservation and positive social outreach, offering individuals from disadvantaged communities the opportunity to participate in ocean clean-up missions. During three-day sea voyages, participants experience activities with a positive environmental impact - beach cleaning, processing marine plastics for recycling and repurposing. This is accompanied by three self-development workshops, each consisting of a presentation, group conversation, practical tasks plus Q&As led by a qualified mental-health nurse and stress management consultant.
Reusable period education to our Schools - GRAB
Single use period products are the 5th most common form of marine litter and period poverty is a direct contributor to low educational attainment. This project will support Teachers at all 77 Schools in Argyll & Bute by providing free resource packs and accessible online training that will enable pupils to make informed choices about their health and their environmental impact. The project will improve education on period product options, engage young people, increase reusable product use, negate period poverty, and increase period dignity.
Ocean Pathways - Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT)
Ocean Pathways will integrate a year-long programme for 16–18-year-olds from diverse communities. Twelve people will be recruited from culturally and socially diverse backgrounds from communities around Plymouth. The group will be invited to participate in six workshops that will allow them to gain skills through conservation work and activities such as habitat restoration and climate change workshops. Each participant will be paired with an OCT mentor for continued professional development and will make up a youth advisory panel that contributes to the growth of the OCT, local communities, and the conservation community.
Trash and Treasure - Penparcau Wildlife Group
The Trash and Treasure project aims to recruit volunteers from the community to visit the local beach to learn about its wildlife, take part in surveys to monitor a range of species, and to work together to remove litter from the strandline. The project is being supported by The Shark Trust who run the Great Eggcase Hunt. Penparcau Wildlife Group are a community-based research and conservation project based at Penparcau Community Forum, using a citizen science approach to identify and map the wildlife of our coastal village in Penparcau, West Wales. They want to encourage people to get a sense of ownership of Tanybwlch beach and to create a community-wide feeling that “This beach is ours to care for and protect”.
Blue Youth: Kickstarting the connection with marine conservation – Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC)
WDC Shorewatch is a long-standing citizen science project gathering regular, specific data on cetacean presence and absence in Scotland. A main barrier to volunteering for young and disadvantaged communities is lack of transport and/or funds to get to volunteer locations. WDC want to make Shorewatch opportunities more accessible to 18 to 25 year olds within the Highlands and Islands including the Hebrides, North Coast and Moray Firth. They have identified 10 sites to focus on and aim to train 150 young people in Shorewatch scientific methodology to survey for whales, dolphins and porpoises from land-based locations and engage 500 youths in marine conservation, their local marine habitat and marine opportunities. They will run free events and transport options to improve accessibility to these opportunities.
Helen Webb, Co-Founder of Sea-Changers said, “We are so excited to be able to support these six wonderful projects which are all aiming to achieve marine conservation outcomes, alongside social, health and /or well-being. Each project is unique in focus and many are innovative in approach and we are excited to see the benefits they achieve for the environment and for those who take part. “