Wild team volunteer project saved at eleventh hour
The funding for a volunteer team that cares for Shropshire's countryside has been saved at the eleventh hour.
The Shropshire Wild Teams, set up by Shropshire Council's Outdoor Partnership Team, had feared that they would have to close in April because of budget cuts.
But, a week before the deadline, money was found from a health care fund and now the four teams are back out working in some of the county's beauty spots.
The countryside conservation project supports adults leading sedentary and or isolated lifestyles, and organisers say that volunteers are overwhelmingly represented by people using secondary mental health services and those with learning disabilities.
Teams are based in Oswestry, Shrewsbury, Craven Arms and Bridgnorth, each carrying out a different task every week.
As well as the Outdoor Partnerships Team the volunteers also work alongside other partner organisations such as Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Forestry Commission, Canals and Rivers Trust, Caring for God’s Acre, National Trust, as well as a number of other local conservation groups and town parish councils.
Spokesman, Simon Brown, said the teams, now approaching their fifth year, are fast approaching full capacity with 60 signed up volunteers every week.
He said: "This past year has been difficult for the project as cuts threatened closure in April this year. Outdoor Partnership staff and management, as well as colleagues from Public Health worked hard to secure funding to keep the project running.
"Unfortunately this was not forthcoming and preparations were made to inform volunteers of the bad news. However, a week before this deadline, money was unexpectedly found from within the Better Care Fund and Shropshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group was also able to secure a further amount that bought it up to the project’s annual running costs.
"It means that the Wild Teams, officially commended by its services users, carers and many health professionals alike will continue to run for another 12 months.
"During that time the project continues to work closely with its supporting colleagues in Public Health to secure future financial certainty by designing a research proposal that will give robust evidence of the positive physical and mental health benefits that the Wild Team volunteers are reporting."
Anyone who feels they may benefit from joining one of the four Wild Teams can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01743 255055.