Covid can't stop us! How a Wilder group continued making space for nature during lockdown.

© Lianne de Mello

Just weeks before lockdown, friends and neighbours in Hyde gathered to form a new wilder group. Though a lot of their plans changed as the country went into lockdown, their focus on creating online and socially distanced campaigns kept engagement levels high and they're becoming wilder every day.

Wilder Hyde was formed in February 2020, when I approached some local friends and neighbours who are interested in nature conservation. We had our first meeting in a local pub and decided on various projects we would like to tackle. We also want to extend our efforts, where possible, to the neighbouring area of Abbotts Barton.

We planned to hold a launch event for Wilder Hyde in May, but unfortunately, due to COVID 19, this was unable to take place. However, we didn’t let this hold us back  and instead we decided to develop the Wilder Hyde website. A volunteer IT expert built the site for us and we planned and wrote the content. We learnt how to upload content and images to the site, how to design pages and manage the content. We designed the logo based on Team Wilder’s logo and inspired by the architecture and nature of Hyde. We were keen for the website to go live as soon as possible in the lockdown so people could try out some of our wildlife friendly ideas while spending so much time at home.

Inspired by actions in Wilder Portsmouth, in April we held a nature swap on four residential roads in Hyde. This involved having an area outside a house where we left flower seeds, plants, bird seed, bamboo etc for people to help themselves to and to also leave things for others. A local teenager designed a poster advertising the swap as part of her Duke of Edinburgh's award. This worked really well and we received lots of positive feedback from local residents. Locals said they really enjoyed sharing and receiving items to improve their gardens for nature. They also enjoyed the interaction with neighbours albeit at a social distance! 

In May we launched an art competition for local children and adults, which was a great success. Through our WhatsApp groups, St Bede school and posters, we encouraged the local children to create pictures inspired by nature and to put them in their front windows for the exhibition date. Lots of children and a few adults participated. This was a very positive action during lockdown and people really enjoyed seeing the art in the windows when they went for a walk – some pictures are still up now! A Wilder Hyde member, who is a teacher at the local school, judged the entries and gave a small prize and sunflower seedling to each of the winners. We uploaded all the entries and some pictures of the winners onto the website. Here are some of the entries:

Sign post with Tawny Owl on as part of Wilder Hyde's nature trail.

© Sarah Perrin

In June we set up a children’s Nature Trail where we placed a laminated picture of an animal in 25 front gardens around Hyde. Children would then spot the different animals whilst walking and could download spotter sheets and associated activities from the website to further their knowledge.

In response to local opinion on social media, Wilder Hyde and Abbotts Barton Community Group joined forces and approached Winchester City Council to request a reduction of the mowing of green verges in June. A couple of weeks later we met with Winchester City Council and our local councillor and identified suitable verges across the 2 areas. Together we have now launched a Wildflower Community pilot project using two grass verges on Chaundler Road, Abbotts Barton and this has been entered into WCC’s Biodiversity Action Plan. We gathered a group of volunteers and with advice from the Wildlife Trust, these areas have been prepared by hard raking to create bare patches. The verges will now be cut less often to allow wildflowers and grasses to grow. This will create an improved habitat for wildflowers, pollinators and small mammals. We hope to roll this out to other areas in the future. Through social media and local notice boards, we informed other residents about this project and in the Spring we will gather volunteers again to collect and remove cuttings when the verges are next mown.

Two volunteers raking grass area to prepare for Wildflower community plot

© Sarah Perrin

We have several other projects on the go now including one with Hampshire County Council about planting trees locally and would like to plant community orchard trees and street trees where possible. This would link up the roads to Riverpark recreation ground and Winnall Moors Nature Reserve for birds and other wildlife. We're also working with Winchester Litter Pickers who have established a Hyde Group to pick up litter every Sunday morning.

In the Autumn we are launching a Hedgehog Awareness campaign. We are lucky to have a healthy population of hedgehogs in Hyde and lots of residents report seeing them in their gardens. We are planning to ask the local children to design posters with key information on how people can help hedgehogs and what to do if they find one in their garden that they are concerned about. We plan to use the Hedgehog Street campaign resources and encouraging residents to cut holes and put Hedgehog Highway signs on their fences.

We are a motivated and supportive group with a range of skills and interests. We have found that new people have joined and original members have stepped back due to other commitments. We still have plenty of work to do including setting up an email communication list, applying for Public Liability Insurance for events and continuing to inspire local people to help nature.


Sarah Perrin

Wilder hyde logo showing a drawing of residential street with Wilder lettering superimposed.

© Wilder Hyde

Wilder Future team walking into sunset

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