Becoming a part of a Wilder Hampshire and Isle of Wight – reflections on a wild first day of work

On January 7th we launched our first Team Wilder event - a workshop day for our very first team members and champions. It also happened to be my first day of work! Read on to find out how it went.

January 7th was an important day for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. This was the day of our first Team Wilder event – a workshop day for our very first team members and champions. Team Wilder is the Trust’s new programme – a key part of the Wilder 2030 strategy and a way of bringing people together, supporting and encouraging everyone to take action everywhere – in their homes, gardens, schools, workplaces, and communities. The idea is that, together, we can all create the change that will be needed to tackle the devastating loss of wildlife and tip the balance in favour of nature’s recovery.

Over the coming months and years, the Trust hopes to build an interconnected network of motivated people from all across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, helping to restore and connect wild places to which wildlife can return to and thrive.

The workshop day invited people who were interested in, or had already started projects to wild their communities to come and learn new skills, connect and share ideas with other people, and be supported by Team Wilder to get their wild project ideas off the ground.

But January 7th was also important for another reason. January 7th was when the Wildlife Trust launched me into the wild – I mean, adult life – I mean, Team Wilder. As the first Campaigns and Events Officer on Team Wilder, and this being my first job since graduating university, I felt like a slow worm hatching , leaving the warm protection of the egg and slithering into the unknown. But slow worms hatch in autumn and this is winter. Nor am I anything like a slow worm, but at least I know that a slow worm is actually a lizard – so I think that means I am qualified to work for a wildlife trust?

I arrived at the workshop without knowing many people, and without any idea of what I was supposed to do. Would I be expected to lead an event? Surely not! Fortunately, the only thing I had to do that day was sign people in - which was easy - but still a slow worm could not do it! So, I got to spend the rest of the day attending the workshop events with the rest of our guests. 

Debbie Tann, CEO, welcoming everyone to the workshop.

©David Allwright

After an inspiring introduction by our CEO, Debbie Tann, we heard from Laura Mellor who has been spearheading the first ‘wild street’ in Portsmouth and Paul Beevers who has transformed council land into rich wildflower meadows with the Hatch Warren Nature Group in Basingstoke. It was so awesome for me to see that, even though this was the official start of Team Wilder, there were already so many successful projects up and running that we can all learn from.  Hopefully, in my role, I will be able to discover many more people and groups like these, and connect them with a growing Wilder network to create a community of advice and support.

I met and heard from many more amazing community members in the three workshops that followed. There were people whose jobs were related to nature; people who were part of a volunteer group; people who had a vague, abstract idea of what wild project they’d like to do; and people who knew exactly where their passions lay.

Community and Engagement officer, Andy Ames, doing a mapping exercise with our Wilder Team.

© David Allwright

The workshops showed our guests how to make room for nature; how to use behavioural change strategies to encourage others to protect wildlife; and how to guide a nature walk. Mapping community assets and actors in your towns and streets can help you to visualise spaces in a more holistic manner and therefore enable you to enact changes which are more likely to stay. The talk on behavioural change strategies gave people a new tool for imagining events and activities to engage people in Team Wilder. On the nature walk, we didn’t have to go very far to find something fun to do! There was something very silly about a group of adults, of all ages, walking around with their hands around their eyes as lenses, trying to film their own nature documentary that no one else was ever going to see. In all the workshops, I found that people were quickly losing themselves in conversations and were inspired by what they were seeing and hearing. 

At the end of the day, Ian Boyd, an incredibly dedicated and knowledgeable ecologist from the Isle of Wight, brought us all back together to give us a few final words. Rather than summarising the events of the day, Ian told us that there was nothing simpler or easier to do than to get a drill and bore holes into pieces of wood. Nature creates small pockets of habitats all the time, but constant clearance of dead and decaying logs and other biomass for fear that a garden would look ‘imperfect’ has contributed to loss of wildlife in the UK and further afield. Ian’s passion for drilling holes into bits of wood certainly got a few laughs from the audience and his message left quite an impression (pun intended). What a great way to end a day of workshops! I think everyone wanted to find a drill as soon as they got home and start making spaces for wildlife.

Ian Boyd at Wilder Workshop

© David Allwright

On the train home, I thought to myself that I could not have asked for a better first day of work! I did not have to run my own workshop (phew!); I got to meet my new colleagues; I was introduced to and connected with many community members and future contacts; and, I had a first look at what Team Wilder was all about so that I could start my new job with a lot more confidence and a head overflowing with ideas.

Like anyone starting a new job, I am still learning the ropes but I hope that, un-like the slow worm, I will find my feet soon enough. I am excited to be a part of such a friendly team and work with the people with so many ideas for wilding their communities. Let’s go wild!

If you are interested in any of the topics from the workshop, or if you would like to find out more about Team Wilder and how you can get involved, email wilder@hiwwt.org.uk.