The group received a National Lottery Community Fund grant of £150,000 for the Get in Touch with the Dighty project, which uses the Dighty Burn to help connect people with their local environment through a range of activities such as practical conservation, forest schools and crafts and archaeology projects.
What we like about this project
Building good and strong connections is key to the success of any project. The project explores ways to enhance the green spaces along the burn through a mixture of conservation and cultural activities. It is a great example of how people in the community connect with each other, all through a common interest of the Dighty Burn, which is a stretch of water in East Dundee surrounded by much under-used public greenspace.
Dighty Connect encourages folk from the area to get involved with the Dighty Burn in any way they like, be it through archeology and history, conservation, green-gym activities, play, or environmental arts and crafts. When a few of us from The National Lottery Community Fund visited the project on a sunny September day, we saw a handful of local residents dressed in waders, busy dredging the burn to help improve water flow. It certainly was a muddy job, but folk seemed to be having a ball!
How they did it
Ann Lolley, who manages Dighty Connect, says that it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what it is that draws people to the project. ‘People have a strong connection to the burn, and the green space around’. By listening to folk, she says, the project is able to work alongside them to develop the activities that people want to do. The key is flexibility, and really listening. Dighty Connect runs a big range of activities in response to what people are interested in. Activities include ‘arty’ projects, such as creating mosaic benches and information plaques to be situated along the banks of the burn, song-writing workshops (composing songs about Dighty Burn), local history projects, and environmental education.
Dighty Connect has a very broad base of community involvement, and it is accessible to all ages and all abilities. For instance, one of the current groups has members ranging from ages 11 to 75 so it enables people from different generations to interact with one another.
There is a group of dog walkers who walk along the burn every day, and so engage in ‘citizen science’ work, such as bird watching, recording seasonal change, or reporting on pollution incidents.
As well as connecting to local people, Dighty Connect is very popular with other local groups, such as schools, nurseries, adult learning and mental health support groups. The project provides ‘tailored’ outdoor environmental based activities, enabling individuals to engage with activities that interest them.
If Dighty Connect has inspired you and you have an idea for funding you can contact us for advice on your project idea.