Setting up No Cold Calling Zones for vulnerable residents

Wiltshire Council have a toolkit, produced in February 2014  to enable community groups to set up No Cold Calling Zones (NCCZ) in areas where there are a high number of vulnerable residents. 

These zones are not about preventing utility representatives, local authorities or your local Avon lady from calling on residents.  This is about preventing "cold callers" touting for business. 

What is cold calling?
Cold calling is a form of marketing. For the purposes of this guide we are concentrating on those who call unexpectedly, and uninvited at a home with the purpose of selling goods, or offering a service, we refer to them as "doorstep traders". Examples might be offering gardening services or building maintenance services.

The main concern for trading standards and the police is that vulnerable older people often tell us how frightening it is for them to have strangers calling at their door. Poor hearing and sight, as well as memory problems or mobility issues make it very difficult. They become confused and can be persuaded to agree to have work carried out on their homes which
may be unnecessary and overpriced. They may feel intimidated into paying, even though they are not happy with the work or the amount being demanded. They fear reprisals if they refuse. Traders who successfully victimize an older person will often return, or provide the victim's details to criminal associates. Repeat victimization of vulnerable elderly people is very much a concern.

Doorstep crime against elderly vulnerable people is difficult to prevent, because to do so relies on a resident's own  awareness of the risks, as well as his or her understanding of what steps to take to avoid becoming a victim. A well set up community no cold calling zone is just one way to reduce the risks. 

What is doorstep crime?
There are two main types of doorstep crime, distraction burglary and rogue trader. Predominantly these crimes are carried out during the daylight hours. Both types of doorstep crime are often carried out by the same criminals, who will seize whatever opportunity presents to them. They can quickly turn from being a rogue trader to a distraction burglar and vice versa depending on what opportunity they have. It is also easier to appear to be a normal trader or caller when working the daylight hours. Home owners are less wary of callers during daylight than they are of those calling at night. It must be understood that these criminals see what they do as "their work" and unfortunately they have no compassion for someone old or vulnerable - they are quite simply an "easy target". 

Distraction burglary usual takes place after the caller claims to be from the council or gas or electricity provider, a policeman or other official organization, but it can be carried out by simply distracting the householder with stories of a lost pet, lost ball, using the telephone to make an emergency call etc. Sometimes the caller will use a child or female to try to add some legitimacy to their reason for calling.

The activities of cold callers are difficult to control, and therefore any means by which we  can minimize the opportunity for crime is to be welcomed, and reducing the incidence of cold calling on the elderly and vulnerable is one way we can seek to do that.

What makes a good No cold Calling Zone?
A NCCZ is a small defined area, such as a "close" or street or simply a collection of homes that includes a proportion of vulnerable or elderly people who could potentially benefit from the restriction of cold calling. The best zones are small areas with approx thirty homes or so, with a mix of elderly residents and young families. The mix of residency is beneficial to a zone because younger families are likely to be at home during the day, out and about their property, and more alert to what is going on around their locality.

Whilst a mix of residency is preferable, any area where vulnerable people could benefit from the introduction of a zone may be suitable.

A zone is officially recognized and supported by the police and trading standards, and many organizations such as utility providers are now bound to recognize the zones and avoid calling within them. 

The NCCZ Toolkit was launched in Febraury 2014 and contains all the information needed to decide whether a NCCZ zone is  suitable for the local needs and the steps to set one up that is recognised by the relevant authorities.

Getting Started with your No Cold Calling Zone (NCCZ) - the steps are

1. Discuss with Trading Standards
Contact your local trading standards service by emailing: or by calling 01225 713248 

2. Consultation
You must carry out a consultation within the proposed zone area. 

3. Signage
You will need to purchase street signs.

4. Launching your zone/information pack for residents
Ensure that you inform trading standards that the scheme will be set up and when that is likely to happen.

5. Maintenance of your zone signage
The signs will need to be checked on a regular basis.

6. Publicity

Some think it essential and others believe that it gives rise to problems...

7. Staying in Touch/Evaluation
You will want to consider how you will stay in touch with your zone members.

8.  Intelligence reporting. 
Cold caller behaviour which gives rise to concern should always be reported.

The full toolkit can be downloaded by clicking here.
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Give Nature a Home with the RSPB

The Give  Nature a Home campaign has lots of ideas on their website.  Some are quick, relatively cheap and take very little time, others will take longer with more resources.   There is clear guidance and instructions available. There really is something for everyone so why not take a look at what is on offer and do something for nature this summer.

For example you could build a bug hotel in a couple of hours:

Create a multi-storey hotel that's full of all sorts of natural materials, providing hidey-holes for creatures galore.

Safe hideaways can be hard for wildlife to find in some gardens, and what better use for all your garden waste and odds and ends?  

Build your bug hotel (also known as a wildlife hotel or stack) well and it could shelter anything from hedgehogs to toads, solitary bees to bumblebees, and ladybirds to woodlice.

Source and image from RSPB website.

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Small Business Saturday December 5th 2015

This is a grass-roots campaign which exists to support, promote and inspire small businesses, on the first Saturday in December, and beyond.

This year there are events across the country during the whole of November leading up to December 3rd 2016.

What's in it for small businesses?

The campaign exists as a nationwide promotional tool for small businesses. It is free and anyone can take part.  

How the UK supported Small Business Saturday 2015:

Customers spent £623m with small businesses on Small Business Saturday, an increase of £119m or 24% on 2014

#SmallBizSatUK trended at number 1 all day on Small Business Saturday with over 100,000 tweets sent in support of the day, reaching more than 25 million people

Over 75% of local councils actively supported the campaign, delivering on the ground activities including free parking, Christmas fairs and small business networking events plus much much more.

There is a toolkit available online that will give some suggestions such as a community discount scheme for the day with local businesses participating, or put on a winter market to draw more people in.

Small Business Saturday is not just about shoppers, but bringing small businesses together and boosting links between them for mutual support.

For more please visit their website here

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Community Defibrillator Project - Save a Life

Some of you may have seen the bright yellow community defibrillators around rural villages or read my reports on a local butcher's work on this project on the Our Community Matters blog sites.

A number of villages, including my own Parish, have raised funds for community defibrillators and first aid training to run alongside this scheme.  This is because the response times for ambulances to such a rural areas means that surviving a heart attack is much less likely than in urban areas.  These units are accessible via the 999 service 24/7 and can be used by anyone. 

The following is an excerpt from the Community Heartbeat Trusts website:
Life expectancy
Following a Cardiac Arrest the chance of survival decreases by 23% per minute. It is therefore very important medical treatment starts as soon as possible. The UK Resuscitation Council suggests an automated external defibrillator or AED should be available wherever medical treatment is more than 5 minutes away.

The Steps

Find out if there is a community defibrillator within a couple of miles of the location you are looking at.

Assess/consult to see if there is local support for this unit.

Register your interest via the Community Heartbeat Trust Website.

Start fundraising.  You will need to raise £2200 plus installation costs of around £200 for the full package plus a small reserve for replacing the pads at £36 per set every 2 years and batteries at £180 every five years.  

Area Boards will consider contributing funding for these units.

A Parish Council or community group will need to accept responsibility for maintaining/managing the unit. The unit will also need to be registered with the local ambulance service and checked on a weekly or monthly basis so they know it is in working order and accessible.  Community Heartbeat will help with setting up this process which is done via an online website.

Once funds are secured contact the Community Heartbeat Trust for help in securing the equipment and registering the units location.  This will need to be near a power source and accessible 24/7. See the websites for locations used like telephone boxes. The site will need to be mapped and recorded by the local Ambulance trust, Community Heartbeat will help with this.

Purchase the unit and arrange installation.

Arrange for the training to take place locally. You might also consider funding for a local school or youth group to do some training.  We arranged for years 5 and 6 of our local primary school to do a 2 hour session which counted towards their key skills.  St Johns Ambulance and the Red Cross can offer this training.

Inform local residents that the unit is live.

Keep local residents informed of when the unit has been used and the outcomes.

To find out more visit the British Heart Foundation or the Community Heartbeat Trust who are helping us with our project.  You should also contact your local ambulance trust as they also have programs to help widen the network of community defibrillators. Click here to see SWAST's advice booklet on defibrillators in the community.


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Turn food and garden waste into compost

Garden and food waste compost bins

Wiltshire Council have teamed up with Great Green Systems to offer subsidised food waste digester's to Wiltshire Residents, to help reduce the food waste sent to landfill.

There are two offers available:

Green Cone (£20)

The green cone can digest all cooked and uncooked food waste, no garden waste. Designed for a sunny position in a well drained garden, the cone ensures the total breakdown of all food waste into its natural components of water and carbon dioxide, thus producing minimal residue.

Green Johanna (£25)

Great for budding composters,the Green Johanna can safely digest both garden and all cooked and uncooked food waste, producing an excellent quality compost for use in your garden. Designed for a shady position, the ventilation system enables the Green Johanna contents to get up to a high temperature and therefore breaks down the waste quickly.

What a great project for families, individuals, schools and community groups!  If you only have a small garden or live alone why not share with a neighbour?

How do you get your subsidised digester?

Digesters can be purchased from the Great Green Systems website, to get your discount enter your postcode in the search box in the top left. You can also order by calling Great Green Systems on 0800 731 2572.  gives a lot more information on each of these systems including hints and tips and the option to purchase online.  Once ordered they usually take 3-5 days to arrive.

So Why make compost with a Green Johanna?

The waste mountain is a major problem for all of us. More than half of our rubbish is biodegradable and can be composted. The nutrients that we take from the earth are now primarily replaced with artificial fertilisers, which are expensive to manufacture. Natural nutrients, which are free and can be found in our rubbish bins, currently lie on a waste mountain, which is becoming ever larger and more impossible to control.

But despite all the gloomy figures about how much we waste and throw away (320 kg of rubbish per person per year), the future is looking brighter. More and more people are starting to make compost. By making your own you reduce the need to buy from unsustainable sources! Participate in nature's cycle and be more conscious about what we buy, use and throw away.

Sorting at source begins in the kitchen

This is where you must begin separating the glass, plastic and metal from the material, which can be composted. By adding another bin in your kitchen you can separate the waste that can be composted from that which cannot. All food waste can be composted: vegetables, fruit, dairy products, bread, bones, fish remains, soup and eggshells. Coffee filters containing coffee grounds, tea bags, household paper, egg cartons, and wilted flowers and pot plants can also be added to the compost. Grass clippings, leaves, twigs, weeds, bark, etc. can also be composted. It is recommended to cut the waste into small pieces, as this gives the micro organisms more surface area to work on, producing compost more quickly!

The stirring stick... an accessory that helps you aerate the compost effectively. It is made of wood and has two movable metal blades at one end. It is also an ideal tool for removing the final compost.

This is no ordinary compost system

Green Johanna allows you to compost all your food waste. You can make compost all the year round. No matter how cold the outside temperature. The final product is fully broken down and appears as a moist, nutrient-rich soil, the ultimate treat for our favourite garden plants.

The Green Johanna features adjustable ventilation, With the lockable lid that allows variations in compost temperature and quality that can easily be adjusted and controlled. It is easy to empty. Unlike most compost systems which must be emptied by dismantling or digging from the top. The Green Johanna allows you to draw only the completed compost from the bottom without disturbing the process that is continuing above.

1. How do you start?

Once you have taken delivery of your Green Johanna and sited and assembled it following the instructions on the website. Cover the whole base plate with a loose layer of twigs and other coarse garden material to a depth of 10-20 cm. This should be covered with a layer of fine garden waste, followed by mature compost or soil. You can now begin to add your household waste. In the winter, you follow the same process, also adding one or two bucketfuls of farmyard manure or compost from an ongoing composting process. Another useful liquid is made by cutting some nettles and steeping them in water and add that to the material.  This is also a good fertiliser at no cost!

2. The importance of layering

It is important to layer garden and household waste properly. The best combination is one part garden waste (or soil, planing shavings, sawdust) to two parts kitchen scraps. Layers of one substance should never be too thick. Don't forget to scatter and mix the material as finely as possible, as this helps to speed up the process.

3. Aerating

Mix and aerate the uppermost layer of the compost every time you add new material. This ensures that the micro-organisms, which live and work in the compost, are able to do their job successfully. Once in a while, it is necessary to aerate the compost deeper down. This is done by carefully moving the stirring stick up and down in the compost.

4. Covering new waste

As you add new waste, the compost will shrink. Always cover the new household waste with garden litter. You won't usually have to buy garden litter. It is to your own advantage to make your own from hedge clippings, trimmings from bushes and trees and other garden waste, this can be done by hand or simply by using a garden shredder. This is the best litter for your compost and, during the autumn, you should save garden waste to use in winter.

5. When is it ready and how do you empty it out?

Depending on the conditions the compost will be ready after four to six months. It looks and feels like soil, smells good, is pleasant to the touch and crumbles readily. The easiest way to empty your Green Johanna is to remove the composted material through the two doors at the base. That way, you'll only get mature compost, and you'll avoid having to sort and start the process over again. It's even better if you have two or more Johannas, as you'll be able to let the compost in one mature fully while you continue adding to the other. Try to organise your composting process, so that you have humus ready in time for spring, when you need the nutrients for your plants.

6. Where do you put the mature compost?

The mature compost, which has become humus, can be spread on the earth all year round (e.g. around trees, bushes and on vegetable patches). The compost can be dug in, but if the mulch is not ready, the decomposition process will continue and steal the oxygen from the plants. In the autumn, however, half-ready compost is ideal for digging in to the earth. You can also let the compost lie and mature in a simple container or in a covered heap if you do not need it straight away.

7. There is no better compost than home-made compost

No soil is as nutritious and of such high quality as that which comes from a hot compost and which contains both garden and household waste. The compost produced in Green Johanna is a rich nutrient supplement for your garden. You'll notice the difference in everything you grow: vegetables will taste better and flowers will grow and flourish!

The Winter Jacket... made of foam polyethylene. The winter jacket should be fitted when the average outdoor temperature consistently falls below 5°C, and removed when the temperature is constantly above 10°C.
It is essential that the winter jacket is removable during the process, otherwise the compost will burn, in which event the microorganisms die and the process is halted.

So there you go turn your waste into nutritious compost for your plants and do you bit for the environment.  
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Melksham CAP are looking at setting up a Parkrun

A message from the Chair of the Melksham Community Area Partnership

As a not-regular-enough Parkrunner I was pleased to discover enthusiasm for setting up a Parkrun here in or very close to Melksham. For those of you who haven't heard of Parkrun or want to find out more go to

In a nutshell Parkruns are free, weekly, 5km timed runs held around the world at 9am on Saturday. They are open to everyone, young, old, serious runners or people just wanting to get out and get some exercise and are safe and easy to take part in. The nearest Parkruns at the moment are Southwick Park in Trowbridge and Monkton Park in Chippenham. If the idea of a local Parkrun appeals to you please help us determine the level of interest by dropping an email to or if you don't have access to email just contact the Town Hall. We would like to hear from anyone interested in taking part, suggesting possible routes or helping in any other way.

Colin Goodhind - Chair, Melksham Community Area Partnership
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Green Homes Project

There are some green homes projects locally that have been very successful but those are mainly in an urban setting. Try using this guide to set up Green Open Homes in a rural setting.   The idea is that people can visit a new energy efficient or refurbished home to see local homes that are warm, green and cheap to run and can find out about those features. 
Green Open Homes has a website that can provide support.

  1. Decide how many homes you are going to aim for and in which geographic area.
  2. Decide on a date for the Open Homes.
  3. Promote the idea and recruit homeowners of energy efficient homes on the given date.  Homes can be old or new, heritage to low coast.
  4. Recruit responsible volunteers to act as stewards, helping with promotion, publicity and supporting the homeowners.
  5. Each home will need an information sheet with details of its key features. These need to be printed and available for visitors on the day. These can be further used as case studies.  It should include  a heading describing the property; an overview of the property build materials and age etc; Key features installed/upgraded; an Introduction; a paragraph on each of the key features installed and any issues; details of savings made; contact details for the features installed and businesses involved.  Along with some images.  For more ideas look at case studies from Bath Homes or the Scottish Open Green Homes Network.
  6. Try to encourage those businesses that have been involved in installations in new buildings or renovations to support or sponsor the project.  This might be by being on site answering questions or supplying information.
  7. Prepare a press release and arrange for promotional materials to be circulated widely.
  8. Make sure the information on access is clear. Is this a drop in session open to all or by appointment in which case a booking system will be needed.
  9. Record the day's events in video, images and written feedback from attendees.
  10. Evaluate the project and get the feedback of those who participated.  Do you stop now, keep it small, or build on your success.  You could join an existing network or build your own supported with a website and case studies online holding several events a year.

Other versions on this theme:
Green Farms Open Day, Green Business Open Day, Community Green Energy Open Day.  Green Fayres or Green Business Expos.

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Wiltshire's Bus consultation and option 247 not included

Under Wiltshire's Review of Passenger Transport, their "Public consultation on the future provision of subsidised bus services in Wiltshire" is now under way. Some 98 different services or service groups are being considered for (worst case scenario offered) complete withdrawal of subsidy funding, effecting just over 2.5 million journeys per year. 

In addition to cut options - a sort of Beeching Axe of buses - there is now the possibility of moving to a bus franchising scheme. This integrated network approach allows the removal of duplicated services, the fanning out of other services to cover residential areas on journeys between towns and different village groups, and also opens up new funding and marketing growth opportunities. 

Please take a look at our web site - - to see details of all seven options.  

We would encourage you to support option 24/7 - and to ask others to support it too.  It's the only option that doesn't lead to a continuing downward spiral in which any remaining buses loose connection-al traffic of their place in a complete journey, and become uneconomic themselves and subject to being withdrawn at a later date.   Rather, option 24/7 takes the opportunity we now have - with support from our MP's and from the Department for Transport (links on the web site) to put into place a system in Wiltshire that provides a more financially efficient, better for the customer service that offers new users a real alternative to their car, and offers bus operators a stability to develop that they don't have under the current system. 

Please ask others to take a look at our web site and the options too, and respond. Please copy this message onwards as well, and encourage discussion and review.


This isn't about saving bus services.   It's about people's lives and quality of life. 

Mrs A can no longer drive. She relies on the bus to get her from her home into the town centre where she meets friends and does her shopping. 

Mr B works in X.  He's unable to drive for medical reasons, and commutes by bus every day; sometimes he has to work late and catch a bus back in the early evening. 

The C family send their daughter to school in X - a journey of about 6 miles.  It's not their nearest school, but it's the right one for her and she gets there by bus. 

Miss D and her college friends want to meet up for a 'social' at the weekend or an evening; due to high insurance premiums none of them can afford a car, and in any case they want to be able to enjoy the evening without having to be awake (and sober) enough to drive safely home afterwards. 

Mr E will be retiring in about 7 years - he's getting on a bit shaky on his legs and can no longer walk to the local railway station without it leaving him so tired he can't do his job properly. 

Mrs F no longer has a bus to get to her doctors, so now she requires home visits. 

Ms G had planned to go to college this September with a view to getting qualified and back into employment, but she's had to put these plans on hold because the bus that would get her home at the end of the college day doesn't run any more. 

Mr H doesn't use the bus at all. But he can't get a car parking space in town / at work any longer as all the spaces are filled with people who used to use public transport, so the gets very frustrated and parks in residential streets to the annoyance of those residents. 

Ms I is a health service / social services administrator, and she notices a severe strain on her 'customer transport' budget because she's now spending a lot of money (ad organisation time) or arranging and paying for customers who used to use the bus. 

It isn't about the bus service - it's about the people using the bus! 

Graham Ellis - Supporting Option 24/7 for a positive bus future in Wiltshire


Facebook group: option247

Twitter: @option247





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Sport Relief this March 18th to 20th

Sport Relief is the weekend, every two years, when the British public can get active, have fun and raise cash to help people living incredibly tough lives both in the UK and around the world.

Fabulous fundraisers get sponsored for Sport Relief, and go the extra mile by organising sports tournaments, quizzes and challenges to raise even more cash.

Walk, run, swim or cycle at over a thousand locations across the UK. Enter the Sainsbury's Sport Relief Games now for your chance to win a prize. 

It all leads up to the Sport Relief weekend and a fantastic night of TV on the BBC.

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External Fitness Machines

Through external fitness machines funding grants there are a lot of different products which can be installed to an outdoor area. Most of these include equipment which is commonly found at indoor gyms and leisure centres. For example you could have outdoor cross trainers, spin bikes, treadmills and weight machines, as well as bars and gymnastics features. Each of the exercise machines can come in different designs and sizes to suit whoever will be using the area. A range of surface types can also be installed beneath external fitness machines to keep the area safe and comfortable, for example wetpour rubber surfacing, Multisport synthetic turf and rubber mulch. These flooring types are perfect for outdoor activity areas where equipment is present.

Due to the versatility of outdoor gym facilities, they tend to be fairly popular with funding providers and will often be accepted for grants. By allowing local people to use their outdoor gym, an organisation can improve links with the community as well as getting individuals more healthy and active. External fitness machines funding grants can be used to install a range of different pieces of equipment so there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

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Safe Places Network continues to grow

The Safe Places network is expanding with Durrington launching on December 14th and Highworth and Pewsey about to begin talking to local businesses about this project. 

Safe Places is a community based initiative that provides a network of Safe Place locations in and around the towns and villages of Wiltshire for those that are vulnerable, or who become overwhelmed when out and about.  The businesses and shops which become a Safe Place are able to offer immediate support to anyone who needs help whilst out in the community. 

Safe Places is currently running in Malmesbury, Melksham, Calne, Chippenham, Devizes, Swindon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Amesbury, Warminster, Salisbury, Ludgershall and North Tidworth. 

"This is an excellent local scheme that enables those residents with less confidence to be more independent. No particular skills or training is required, just an awareness of how the scheme operates. " Dawn Wilson of the Wiltshire Forum of Community Area Partnerships. 

Phil McMullen Safe Places Coordinator for Melksham relates one story. "The hairdressers in Melksham reported a happy ending to one particular incident concerning a confused lady who wandered in. The lady told them she didn't have an appointment but she had run away and she was waiting there to meet her lover. She was approaching 90 years old and the staff were a little suspicious, so they looked after her, gave her a cup of tea and asked some gentle questions and eventually the care home staff were able to come and resettle her." 

Look out for the stickers in your town or village and if you are aware of someone who may benefit from knowing about the scheme please tell them about Safe Places.

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Build a Hedgehog Home

Different Hedgehog homes

It's really easy to make a house for hedgehogs. Take a sturdy crate or cardboard box and turn it upside down. Cover it with stones, earth and wood, and make sure there's an entrance. If using cardboard cover it more carefully to make it water proof. If it's dry and protected, hedgehogs can use it to stay over winter. Click here for more DIY ideas.

You can make one to a similar design. Whenever you buy wood, make sure it comes from a sustainable source.

Make your hedgehog home a sturdy one as badgers and foxes will make a meal of a hedgehog, given half a chance.

The easiest way to help hedgehogs find a home is to give them plenty of natural opportunity. Log piles, compost heaps and cosy spaces under a shed or hedge are all popular.

Where to put your hedgehog home

  • Hibernating hedgehogs like peace and quiet. Put the house where it won't be disturbed, against a wall, bank or fence if possible and under or near plant cover.
  • The north wind doth blow, so face the entrance away from north or north-east and you're more likely to encourage a guest.
  • Hedgehogs like to furnish their own homes with leaves and garden debris - it's part of their hibernation ritual - so don't line the box for them.
  • Don't disturb the box once it's occupied. You might frighten a nesting mother and cause the young to be abandoned.
  • If you can, put your hedgehog home in or near a damp, untidy area so that hedgehogs are protected when they come out to forage.

Hedgehog hazards

Compost heaps
Be aware that hedgehogs might be nesting in your compost heap before you dig in the fork to turn it over ... check first!

Fruit nets
Avoid fruit nets or mesh as hedgehogs and other animals can get tangled in them.

Lawn mowers
Hedgehogs can be killed by strimmers, so either avoid them or take great care. Also be careful when you're using a lawn mower, especially when cutting long grass.

Slug pellets
Slug pellets can be fatal to hedgehogs, as can weedkillers and other chemicals. Hedgehogs will already be on pest control duty anyway.

As hedgehogs have a fairly large territory, they may use a number of different gardens to forage for food. If you want to encourage them make sure there's an easy way in and out of yours.

 Source BBC Breathing Places

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Ramble for Children in Need 2015

On the weekend of Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th October they're holding our first ever Countryfle Ramble for BBC Children in Need.

Five Countryfile presenters will be leading the way on their own rambles, but they also want as many of you as possible to get out there during this weekend and go on your own sponsored rambles up and down the country. For one weekend they want the whole nation walking.

Do as little or as much as you're able, but please take part. If we all ramble and raise some money, we can change the lives of thousands of disadvantaged children in the UK. Together, we can make a few simple steps have a truly massive impact.

Organise your own sponsored ramble

The want as many people as possible to organise their own sponsored rambles and for you to be the poywer behind the Countryfile Ramble for BBC Children in Need. If we all ramble and raise money, together we can make a real difference to thousands of young people's lives.

Be inspired

If you want to take part and want inspiration on where to ramble check out the links below. If you're keen to ramble up a mammoth mountain, or prefer a gentle pathway; if you've been inspired to take on an epic trek that will push you, or want to find a more modest route close to home - we hope these links will help you get inspired and get started:

Countryside Code

Wherever you ramble, please respect the countryside you're travelling through. Always close gates behind you, take your litter home with you and follow recognised paths, or seek the landowner's permission first.

Source - BBC Countryfile
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Kerbside "gifting" initiative.

I spotted this on Facebook and thought what a great idea for a project.

Pewsey Saturday Sort Out is this coming! The Kerbside "gifting" initiative.

This is how to put unwanted household items outside your house and see if they are taken away by anyone and reused in 10 steps. We must not forget our great charity shops so please follow these simple suggestions:

1. Consider if the item could go to a local charity shop.

2. Put a label on the items "Pewsey Recycling Initiative - please help yourself "

3. If the item is electrical or untested please label "untested item please ensure it is safe before you use it" and consider putting it in a plastic bag to protect it from the elements

4. Ideally put items on your drive or front lawn or if this is not possible ask a neighbour to help. If you put items on a pavement make sure that you are not blocking or causing a trip hazard

5. Items can be put out from 8am to 8pm

6. Any uncollected items must be taken back inside no later than 8pm.

7. No money is to change hands all items are to be considered as "gifts"

8. It doesn't matter who takes items and their later intentions - its just about avoiding items going to landfill

9. If you are loading items into your car park safely and responsibly

10. No dangerous items such as knives, aerosols, weapons, glue, solvents, flammable, toxic, sharp, contaminated, choking hazard etc to be put out. Have fun getting rid of your junk!

Source - Pewsey Noticeboard on Facebook September 28th 2015.

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Wiltshire Walking Festival First Week in September 2015

Walking is being celebrated in Wiltshire during the first week of September with a number of activities and events being held in addition to the regular Get Wiltshire Walking community-wide regular walks. Walking has been proven to support improvements in health is fun, good for our health and wellbeing, and is one of the easiest activities that everyone can do. You don't need any specialist equipment, it's free and it's a great way to explore new routes and paths as well as potentially meeting like-minded people along the way. Free guided walks are being provided throughout the week starting Monday 7th September in various locations across the county including Devizes, Trowbridge, Ludgershall, Durrington, Wootton Bassett and Warminster.  Click here to visit the Active Wiltshire website for more information.

In Bradford on Avon they organise and annual walking festival as they have Walkers are Welcome accreditation.  The Festival takes place Sept 4th to 6th and accommodates all levels from 1 mile  Nordic walking tasters up to 12 mile treks.  Click here for a leaflet.  Why not organise a group to take part?

In Salisbury there are lots of options but maybe the Barons Trail which forms part of the Magna Carta celebrations is something you might like.

In the Pewsey Vale they have just launched a new Vale Trail linking the Pewsey Heritage Centre, Wilton Windmill and Crofton Beam Engine. Leaflets are available at all three attractions.

Dementia Friends are being asked to take part in or organise  Memory Walks and the Ramblers are already involved in the Big Pathwatch and looking for people to join in.

So there you are lots of ideas for taking part or organising a project around walking for you and your friends this September.
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Woodland Trust offers free Trees to community groups and schools

The tree packs for schools and communities offer the perfect opportunity to unite groups while encouraging beautiful wildlife, protecting against tree disease and providing other benefits to your local area.

School and community tree packs

Woodland Trust have 4,750 tree packs to give away to school and community groups for planting this Autumn. They will be delivering the trees from 2-6 November 2015, so have a look at the information below and see if we can help your community.

These have been generously funded by lead partners Sainsbury's, IKEA FAMILY, Yorkshire Tea, players of People's Postcode Lottery and Biffa Award; also funded by WHSmith and Wilko.

How does it work?

Communities and schools can apply for our free tree packs twice a year which will be sent out in March and November, available in qualities of 30, 105 or 420.

The packs come in different mixes of tree species so you can choose the best one for your project. We accept applications all year round, but only send trees out twice a year - in March and November - when the trees are dormant and ready to plant.

For more information, leaflets and FAQs visit the Woodland Trust Website

The closing date for applying for a free pack is the 3rd September 2015.

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Town Digital Hub - Public services form the community, for the community

How austerity can result in better public services


This is the first in a blog series about a new way for cities, towns and rural communities to tackle the effects of austerity.  A simple but radical approach to collaboration across organisations and sectors can deliver cheaper, better public services while at the same time providing rewarding employment to young people.  Posts in this series will explain the ideas behind the approach, how it was proved initially in the NHS, and how it has now become a larger scale initiative Town Digital Hub (TDH) that is actively supported by the RSA.  If that sounds interesting, then read on!


Feedback is particularly welcome, so it would be great to hear your own ideas and experiences in comments - and we seek to engage with communities both across the UK and internationally, so if you would like to help create a digital hub for your own community, then please do get in touch directly.

Click here to watch a short clip on Frome.  Also A lever to move the world presentation here and another short clip here.


UK local authorities have lost a third of their budget since 2012, and the impact on public services has not yet been fully felt.  Somerset County Council, for example, needs to find another £30 million of savings, which it has not yet worked out how to do.  On top of this, UK government departments have now been asked to come up with two savings plans, one for 25% and one for a colossal 40% of their budget.  Public services in the UK are under serious threat, and at this point it is hard even to estimate the full impacts on society.


In particular, it is quite possible that the long-term social and health care impacts will outweigh any savings made in the short-term.  For example, recent bus cuts in rural Somerset isolate old, young, low-income and disadvantaged people, leaving them unable to get to work or job centres, attend classes or medical appointments, or visit shops.  The staff of businesses such as care homes cannot get to work.  Local amenities such as schools are in danger as people are forced to move.  Social and health effects such as increases in drug usage and life-changing accidents may well cost local authorities more to deal with than the preventative measures that would allow people to lead happier and more stable lives.


Against this backdrop, new thinking about government is percolating up between the seams.  Some local authorities are starting to take advantage of the 2011 Localism Act to act more proactively.  In a few cases these local authorities are led by groups of independent candidates, not affiliated to any party, whose main motivating principle is to enable grass roots transformation - Frome Town Council, for example, is now entirely run by independent councillors, one of whom has published a step-by-step guide to "flatpack democracy".  Anthony Painter, RSA Director of Policy and Strategy, recently published in his blog a summary of such "person-to-person power" initiatives, claiming that "We are in an era of a profound shift in the nature of social and political power. The power structures of the twentieth century, reliant on hierarchical, technocratic methods, are weakening."


Such new approaches represent a potential antidote to austerity.  Grass roots collaboration in a local community between its public, private and third sector organisations can deliver public services that are not only lower cost overall but also more closely attuned to needs and thus more effective. The underlying challenge, as any veteran of committees and steering groups will know, is that collaboration is so hard as to be painful!  Getting anything done that involves multiple stakeholders each with their own interests takes a supreme level of goodwill, patience and skill.  When it works, often it is down to the efforts of one or two "superheroes" who herd the cats to push things through despite all the odds.


But is it possible to simplify such collaboration across multiple organisations - to remove the friction that generates heat instead of results, and wears out the mechanism before it really gets going?  Can we make multi-organisation collaboration easy enough that any community, however large or small, can bring together all their stakeholders at grass roots to make things happen, without relying on superheroes?


The answer has to be yes, since in a climate of increasing austerity the future of public services depends on it - and fortunately the answer is yes, since the RSA is helping make available a scalable online solution based on a simple but revolutionary technique for collaboration.  In future posts for this series, I will explain the basis of the technique, show how the NHS used it to enable radical change, and use the current threats to public transport in Somerset to illustrate how any council can now use Town Digital Hub to enable person-to-person power in their own community.

Author of Blog: Keith Harrison-Broninski forwarded by RSA

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Scarecrow Trail/Competiton

A Scarecrow trail/competition can be as simple as judging the best creation usually based on a given theme or developed into a full blown trail with a quiz and a prize.

They can be held at any time of year, incorporated into a flower show, carnival or fete, or used as a traffic calming measure!  They can be developed as a marketing tool and draw in visitors giving the economy a boost.  Or they can simply generate a feeling of community and fun.

Approach the Town or Parish Council, School, Village Hall committee, Chamber of Commerce who can support the idea and provide funds for printing and advertising etc. if needed.

Form an organising committee.

If you need more information research a school or village near you that has already run one.

Decide on a theme.

Decide whether this will be a free bit of fun or if you are charging an entry fee and giving a Prize.

Arrange for marketing, advertising and information leaflets or an entry form.  Perhaps via a website.

For quiz trail scarecrows generally have to be up by a set date, be photographed and remain in situation for at least 2 weeks to qualify for a prize.

If it is to be a full blown quiz trail delegate a person responsible for writing the quiz and route.  A bit like a treasure hunt.  You might like to present 2 versions under 15's and Adults.

For quizzes make sure you have scrutinised the questions and answers and have them available for the competitors to check after the event.

If the event is not about raising money as a Charity event, funds can still be generated from the sale of the Trail Maps and Refreshments and used to cover costs or donated to good causes.

Click this link for more guidance.

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Create a Bee House for solitary bees with Grow Wild

May is the month to sow your wild flowers to support the bees and insects in our countryside.  Grow Wild were offering free seed kits which have now sold out but you can still plant wild flowers in your garden or a community space.  You might even try to adopt a roadside verge and plant flowers there. But what else can you do? On the Grow Wild website they also have step by step instructions on using recycled materials to build a bee house.  Follow the link here to see 2 different ways to create your own bee house:

Making your own bee house is very simple, easy and fun.

A house for solitary bees can be made out of recycled materials, and placed anywhere, irrespective of whether you live in the city or country.

House 1

Preparation time: 20 minutes


  • Block/log of untreated, seasoned wood approximately 15cm (deep) x 10cm (wide) x 15cm (high)
  • Flat piece of wood for the roof approximately 20cm x 15cm x 1.5cm
  • Drill
  • Clamp
  • Safety glasses 
  • Drill bits 6-10mm diameter 
  • 2 screws
  • String or wire
  • Non-toxic paint/oil pastels for decorating 

House 2

Preparation time: 15 minutes


  • Waterproof container - such as a plastic bottle or juice carton - or length of plastic piping
  • Scissors
  • Warm fabric - such as an old jumper, cardboard or wool
  • Enough of hollow tubes to fill the container - such as dry cow parsley stems, straws, bamboo canes (aim for each to be 15cm long)
  • Air-drying clay or stiff mud that's not too wet
  • String or wire

Follow the instruction on the website and do your bit for bees!

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Involve your school in a musical Climate Project - Devizes

MaCA is reaching out to schools in the Devizes area and inviting them to participate in the Mayday Climate Project. A Mayday awareness song featuring local musicians is being released in the Devizes area. Local schools are offered the opportunity to record pupils singing and playing instruments on the song.

Maca is providing the recording facility on school premises: this is an invigorating way to involve pupils and generate awareness of climate issues.

Participating schools will be given their own page on the MaCA website to air their views on climate problems and solutions.

Each school`s Mayday song can be sold to generate school funds.

On 3rd of May 2015, HillworthPark will be the venue for the Devizes Environment Concert. Local residents and their families will enjoy a picnic in the park and be entertained by a variety of local musicians. This beautiful location has hosted many highly enjoyable events and this should be no exception. The concert will conclude with a live performance of the Devizes Mayday single. Come along and be part of this exciting and uplifting day.

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Get involved with Our Big Gig- register your event by April 26th

Our Big Gig is a community music celebration taking place across England from the 10th - 12th July 2015. This annual event aims to bring communities together to celebrate their local musical talents and get more people involved in music making. Organised by Superact with funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government Our Big Gig offers funding and support to community groups to enable them to organise free community music events in July 2015.

Our Big Gig, England's largest community music festival is to return in 2015 from 10th to 12th July.

The major change for 2015 is that all events requiring funding will be supported to crowdfund for their events on, with match-funding available from the Department for Communities and Local Government. 

Since 2013, over 380,000 people have attended 520 Our Big Gig events which have seen a wide variety of musical activities take place in a range of unusual spaces. From schools to skate parks, beaches to boats, some 8,000 volunteers have organised events for their community across the country.   Some have incorporated WW1 commemorations as their Big Gig music celebration.

For 2015, all types of community organisations are being urged to apply to put on an event in their local area and bring together diverse groups of people through music. Be it a sports club, faith group or another, all events that meet the basic criteria will receive a funding contribution towards their crowd funding campaign and training in crowd funding and event management.

Superact is working with civic crowd funding platform Spacehive to support at least 100 Our Big Gig events in 2015. 

Katharine Lane, Director at Superact said: 

"This year Superact is offering communities the chance to learn more about crowd funding to help make community events like this more sustainable. Support will still be provided by Superact's network of Regional Managers, as well as funding, marketing materials and training for those involved. 

Our Big Gig is a fantastic opportunity for organisations to put on a musical event in their community and reach out to people that they may not yet know. 

We hope that lots of new communities get involved and register their projects with Our Big Gig by the 26th April 2015." 

Chris Gourlay, Chief Executive of Spacehive, said:

"We're delighted to be helping thousands of people across the UK crowdfund local gigs this year. Crowdfunding on Spacehive isn't just about raising money, it's about bringing the community together, which is what Our Big Gig is all about."

Visit for more information 

Read more at:
Copyright © Superact

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Seven steps to setting up a community cinema

The following project is taken from BFI Neighbourhood Cinema 's website so visit there for more detailed steps

Step 1: Get inspired

One of the first things to do is to put your cinema team together. Try and include a range of people with different skills, and ask everyone to take responsibility for a main task - such as film booking, equipment, finances or marketing.

Next, take your team out to have a look at some potential venues. Find out if there are any other community cinemas in nearby towns or villages. You could ask the organiser if they would mentor you and share their expertise and advice while you get set up.

Step 2: Work out the financials

It doesn't sound like much fun, but doing some budgeting to make sure you know how much cash you'll need to get started is essential. You may find out that it's less than you thought!

Set up a simple spreadsheet or Google Sheet and complete it as a team.

Get started with the main costs, which will probably include:

And then enter the ways you might make money, such as:

    • Ticket or membership sales
    • Food and drink sales

Step 3: Source your equipment

Films can be screened using some quite basic kit - all you need is a DVD or Blu-ray player, a projector, a screen and a sound system.

When you're getting started, test whatever equipment your team can source to work out which items you need to buy or upgrade. If you're using a larger venue, you might need slightly higher quality equipment to achieve the clarity of sound and vision that you and your audience will want. Along with your audiovisual equipment, don't forget to ensure you have everything else you need for your venue, like blackout blinds and enough chairs (and plenty of cushions!).

Step 4: Get your licenses in place

Making sure your licences are organised is very important to make sure you can operate legally, and they can be quick and simple to arrange. Your cinema will probably need two key types of licence:

    • A licence for your venue, which quite often lasts for a full year and can be organised through your local council
    • A licence for each film you screen, which you can usually book with the distributor

If you plan to sell hot food or alcoholic drinks as a way to increase your takings, you may need to get an extra licence in place for that too.

Step 5: Choose your first film

Now for the really enjoyable part - choosing which films you'll screen.

How you decide on your films is up to you - you could ask people in your community to vote for what they'd like to see, or your cinema team could decide your programme for the first season.

Once you've picked your titles, contact a booking service or the distributor of each film to arrange the licences for your film screenings.

Step 6: Promote your screening

Speaking of advertising.

Building awareness and excitement about your new cinema can be really satisfying. There are lots of ways you can market your screenings, many of which are completely free. Start getting the word out using printed material like posters or flyers, use social media or even set up a website.

And of course, one of the best forms of advertising is word of mouth, so ask your friends to tell their friends about your cinema's launch and upcoming screenings.

Step 7: Screen your first film

The day has arrived!

After a final test of your equipment before the screening, transform your venue into a cinema - draw the blinds, set up your seats and prepare any drinks and snacks. You could also dress your venue to match the theme of your film.

Then all you need to do is get ready to welcome your new audience for a great film experience that will bring your whole community together.

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BBC's Big Painting Challenge

BBC One are launching a new programme soon, The Big Painting Challenge, which follows ten artists as they take on a series of challenges to become the UK's best amateur painter. Inspired by the programme BBC Learning is running a series of events to engage adults and children in art.

On the 25th February 2015 BBC Learning will be streaming a live art lesson '#Draw Along' aimed at Key Stage 2 children. The Live Lesson will be accessible to teachers across the UK, parents / guardians at home or from children's hospital wards as long as you have the internet you can be involved.   The stream will enable you to link live to the opportunity at:

The lesson will be presented by CBBC presenters Michelle Ackerley (Totally Rubbish) and Ricky Martin (Art Ninja). The 45 minute lesson, running from 11 -11:45am will focus on illustration and how to draw facial expressions and emotions with the help of a surprise CBBC guest.

Nick Sharratt who famously illustrates Jacqueline Wilson's books including the iconic children's character Tracy Beaker will lead the Draw Along, sharing his illustration techniques and distinctive style. At the close of the session the audience will have the opportunity to take part in a Q&A with the team via email or Twitter.

The BBC would like as many children as possible to share in this opportunity and want people to spread the word by re tweeting the link:

If you would like to find out what you need to take part in the lesson, please visit

If you have any questions regarding the live lesson please email

Thanks to Arts in Wiltshire for sharing

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For the love of... - Climate Coalition Campaign this February

With the help of some familiar faces, expert voices and you, your friends, family, neighbours and kids, we'll be starting something special this February.

Valentine's Day Resource Pack Overview

Here is a quick summary of what you need to get involved in the coalition's Show the Love campaign from 9th-14th February!  See the full Resource Pack here.

Goal: Inspire and engage new audiences in order to broaden public mandate for political action on climate change

Reframe the issue: emotional, personal, unusual

Logo/Headline/Hook: SHOW THE LOVE

Urgency: The science is proven. Time is short. But the love is strong. Make sure the people who can make the world of difference, feel our love. This is our time.

Core idea: Show the love for the things we could lose to climate change:
  *   Turning hearts green around Valentine's Day, offering stand-out and special ways to mark occasion
  *   Encouraging people to share the personal things that they love that could be lost to climate change

Top 3 calls to action -- in order of priority:

1) watch & share the love poem film  more info

2) give your heart: send a very special Valentine online  more info

3) make, wear and share green hearts  more info

Key dates and embargos

w/c 26 Jan
Trail the campaign - push green hearts and schools resources online 

w/c 2nd Feb
Trail the campaign - push green hearts and schools resources online

New materials or updates (check  the full Resource Pack):

Embargoed social media images of artists in film and online tool

Web gallery of best tweets and instagrams

Decision on film launch date & YouTube link embargoed for 10/11 Feb 

Sat-Sun 7-8 Feb
One image of an artist in film released to trail the film online - embargoed until then

Sunday Observer article 

Mon 9 Feb
Give your heart online tool launches - embargoed until then - push online 

Tues 10 Feb
Love poem film launches today or 11th - push online 

Weds 11 Feb
Love poem film launches today or 10th - push online

Media coverage - polling, coverage of the film launch (if launched on 10th) 

Thu 12 Feb
Love poem film - continue to push online

PR stunt in central London 

Fri 13 Feb
Give your heart online tool - push on social media - push online 

Sat 14 Feb
Give your heart online tool - push on social media - push online

Possible support from three party leaders

Key messaging 

This year, world leaders could make decisions to protect all we hold dear. We need them to feel our love for things we could lose to climate change. With the help of some familiar faces, expert voices and you, your friends, family, neighbours and kids, we're starting something special this February.

Watch and share a breath-taking film. Make, wear and share green hearts. Tell the world what you love and want to protect from climate change. This is your moment. Be part of it. Don't lose what you love to climate change, just because no one knew you cared. #showthelove


We are using green hearts, and a palette of bright, vibrant greens, in everything we do around Valentine's Day to disrupt the visual noise of red/pink.  You can download the green heart logo and the green colours we're using.

Website URLs

Film: not online yet.  W/c 2nd Feb we will provide a YouTube link embargoed for 10/11th Feb. You can also use which will update to point to YouTube.

Give your heart online tool: not online yet.  Will be at  You can also use  If you want the data of anyone you bring to it from your website/email/social media, we will need to give you a unique URL -- please contact

Green hearts:  link to PDF  You can also use short URL

Everything will also be hosted on if you need one central link.

Social media

Our hashtag for Valentine's is #showthelove -- you can start using this now. 

Key recommended tweets:

See it first here: @radioleary @EmiliaFox & @stephenfry #showthelove for all we hold dear in new film Watch & share!
Beautiful new film of #Shakespeare's sonnet "shall I compare thee to a summer's day". Watch now & share: #showthelove

Give your heart:
Time is short, but the love is strong.  #showthelove for all we could lose to climate change this #Valentinesday
Protect what you love from #climatechange. #showthelove for [insert thing] this Valentine's

Green hearts:
Something big is coming this #ValentinesDay. Wear a green heart, #showthelove for all we could lose to #climatechange

Key recommended Facebook posts:

An incredible cast show the love this Valentine's Day!
Dermot O'Leary, Alison Steadman, David Harewood, Deborah Meadon, Emilia Fox, Raymond Blanc, Stephen Fry, Meera Syal and Jarvis Cocker feature in a new film of Shakespeare's sonnet "shall I compare thee to a summer's day" - to speak up for all we love that could be lost to climate change. Be the first to watch the film and be part of this moment

Online tool:
All you need is love and all we need is to show world leaders we care about the things we could lose to climate change. This Valentine's Day you can be part of something big. #showthelove this Valentine's Day.

See full social media plan with more tweets / Facebook posts, shareable social media images (more coming w/c 2nd Feb of artists in the film & others to promote the online tool), plus behind the scenes video wc 2nd Feb.

Find out more
For more information on the campaign and links to resources, see the full Resource Pack.  If you have any enquiries, please contact us on and one of the team will get back to you as quickly as possible.  Thanks! And Happy Valentine's Day campaigning :)

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Big Garden Birdwatch January 24-25th 2015

Bird populations are a great indicator of the health of the countryside. That's why it's so important to take part in surveys like Big Garden Birdwatch to keep an eye on the ups and downs of the wildlife where we live. 

The Big Garden Birdwatch takes place over a weekend for individuals and families with activities to keep everyone amused such as making birdseed and feeders.

For schools the Birdwatch takes just one hour, and can be carried out at any point between 5 January and 13 February 2015 - that's the entire first half of the spring term. Every school or group that submits their results before the 20 February will be sent a certificate and free personalised minibeast poster as a thank you for taking part. Visit for details.

For a paper-based guide you will need to register to download either the standard guide for adults or the enhanced guide for families with children. Alternatively you could go digital.

Live bird counter

You can complete your results on your desktop, laptop or smartphone during Big Garden Birdwatch.

The live bird counter is quick and easy to use. It will even keep you busy with hints, tips and trivia during the hour. So, why not save the trees for the birds and go digital this year?

If you would rather count birds with a pen and paper, you can download our counting sheet here.

National Nest Box Week follows in February ready for Valentines Day. The British Trust for Ornithology are asking you to put your nest boxes up from 14 to 21 February to celebrate National Nest Box Week (NNBW). But, you can put up a nest box at any time of the year.

Visit their website for fact sheets on buying or building and sighting nest boxes.

If you want to get involved with other nature based projects then why not start recording for Natures Calendar.  There are lots of fact sheets, information and events to get involved with from Bugs to Buds and Frogs to Fruit.

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Hold a community swishing event

Swishing is the ultimate way to get a free outfit for the party season without spending a fortune. You can get rid of some of your unwanted clothes without sending them to landfill,  while getting your local community together for a money saving event.

Most people have some good quality clothes that they no longer wear or that are unwanted gifts, and a community swishing event encourages them to swap them for something else.

What do you need?

·         A place to hold the event

·         Lots of people to donate good quality clothes

·         Clothes rails and hangers

·         Some full-length mirrors

·         Some local advertising

What do you do?

1.      Set your date and time, book your venue and advertise your event using social media, posters, newsletters or in the press. 

2.      Agree some rules for your swishing event, for example everyone brings at least one item of clothing with them, everyone gets the chance to browse before it starts, no-one can reserve anything, and then let the swishing begin.

3.      Make sure you have some people to help you take any unwanted items to the charity shop afterwards.

4.      You could even make it a fundraising event and ask for a donation on the door!

Running a Swishing party is simple, just follow the Rules of the Rail:

5.      Everyone must bring at least one item of quality clothing.

6.      You will have half an hour to browse before the swish opens.

7.      No item may be claimed before the swish opens.

8.      As soon as the swish is declared open, everyone may take what they want.

9.      Remember no scratching, spitting or fighting.

You can also join us on Facebook to ask other Swishettes about their experiences and get tips for throwing your own Swish. 

Information courtesy of Big Lunch Extras and


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Woodland Trust WW1 Commemoration Woods Project

There is a project being delivered by The Woodland Trust with support from local newspapers.  If your community is looking for a small project to commemorate the Great War then this might fit the bill.

The Woodland Trust has set out to plant millions of trees and invites individuals, schools and other community groups to take part.  There will be four Centenary Woods, one each in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  These woods will offer places for reflection with the trees planted in memory of those people who lived and served during the Great War.

Having identified the areas for these new woodlands the Woodland Trust is asking for donations for their development and care.  A donation of £20 will enable the Woodland Trust to dedicate a single tree to create a living and lasting tribute to your ancestors, a local hero or someone you want to recognise for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.  Obviously this is not a large sum to raise and you may wish to dedicate more than one tree or donate more than £20.  Larger amounts will go towards all weather paths, native hedges and wildflowers.

Local newspapers are working with this project to publish the most moving stories from local people as they dedicate their trees.  Click here to visit the website to participate in that arm of the project. Otherwise there are several ways to get involved: you can make a donation to the Centenary Woods project, dedicate a tree in one of the Centenary Woods, or apply for a free tree pack to plant in your community.

You can also go to planting events and help create these new woods by planting trees with the Woodland Trust.

In our parish we are creating a document record of the 15 men and women on our 2 small war memorials.  Basic information can be found either at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission or on the Wiltshire Soldiers Website. But sometimes a bit more effort is required from someone with family history skills. One copy will reside in the churches for visitors and another will go to the archive for future generations.  In this way we hope to make the names of our fallen more tangible and some astonishing stories have emerged.

One such story can be found by clicking here.  This is a young woman worthy of a commemoration tree!

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The Dementia Awareness Project


The Dementia Awareness Project

Many community areas and Area Boards across the county signed up to become dementia aware at the last round of "What matters to you" planning events.  Most recently some have set up dementia aware working groups using Wiltshire Councils Your community dementia tool kit and the Before I forget newsletter.

Why does it matter?  There are currently 6,512 people living with dementia predicted to grow by almost 30% by 2020 - (source Wiltshire Councils community dementia toolkit).  Personally I think this is a very conservative reporting of the numbers.   There are many individuals and families living with this who have not had a formal diagnosis I am sure.

We all know someone who is living with this debilitating disease and it affects more than just the person living with it.  With this in mind our communities are being encouraged to become more dementia aware.  But what does that mean? The word "aware" can translate to being alert, mindful, attentive, responsive or conscious of.  All of these are relevant.  How many of us have been behind someone elderly in a queue at a shop or bank, who seemed a little confused or forgetful?  How did you respond?  Were you frustrated at being held up?  Or did you move forward to reassure and support? Bare in mind this disease targets younger people too.

I am reminded of a tagline "one small thing" can make such a difference.  So if your "one small thing" is being more patient in that situation then make it a personal pledge.  You never know 20 or 50 years from now it could be you learning to live with dementia!

I will not regurgitate more of the aims and objectives from the tool kit here, nor will I repeat the information about clubs and support groups.  As for working with surgeries and advisors, well let's just say that staff numbers are low and time is precious so don't expect too much, however responses differ greatly across the county.  So one of the things you could do is visit each surgery in your area and see what information they have in response to initial enquires.  Give constructive feedback and work together to improve the offer if necessary.

Another area is giving local businesses useful information to help train staff.  It could be a showing of the Wiltshire Voices Film which is 25 minutes long or The film "A day to remember" made by the NHS which is much shorter at just over 3 minutes.  I also found this one from the BBC in 2005, "Living by post it note" which is interesting and 55 minutes. Use these to encourage and inform staff, friends and relations to attend a Dementia Friends workshop or to become a Dementia Friends Champion and learn how to deliver the workshops.  The Altzhiemers website has lots of information about becoming a dementia friendly community.  

Just to prove social media has its uses, Colin Parish tweeted this to me " Something you don't see every day - a song/animation about dementia by Massive Dog. When You Were Superman. Please RT.".  Really great way to reach out to young people.

What I find most frustrating when I ask the question about what information and resources are available, is the number of times the standard response is "we signpost people on to." in response to a query.  Signpost to what?  What are the outcomes?  Do people become disengaged before they reach the "destination"?   

At our group we are reminded that there are many forms of dementia.  It affects all ages.  It affects the wider family, friends and carers.  What information and resources are readily available to give real help?  How easy is it to access an art group or memory club?

So resourcesWiltshire Council has a page that covers fact sheets in libraries to carer training for friends and family, e-learning and the SCIE Open Dementia e-learning Programme is aimed at anyone who comes into contact with someone with dementia and provides a general introduction to the disease and the experience of living with dementia.  It is worth a visit.

Many living with dementia remember the past much more easily.  Memory books are one way to engage that involves the person living with dementia.  From the Alzheimer's Forum there is this link about them I also found a link to the Activities to Share website that sells the books ready to use and has other ideas for engaging activities have a browse as there are ideas for different senses and levels of motor skills. The Dementia UK website also has information on Life Story Books and a free MS Word template to download (copyright is with Dementia UK).  It looks easy to use for the computer savvy, alternatively printed off as hard copy to complete, it is 15 pages long.

During my browsing I also came across "Blue Sky White Clouds" a book for memory challenged adults.  The link takes you to Amazon for the blurb.  I don't advocate buying from amazon but it you look at the "customers also bought" section there are other similar books to browse. You could also have a look at enjoy-able living which is another website selling user-friendly activities for those with memory issues.  Please note I am not recommending these sites only making you aware of them to give you some ideas.

Finally there is another project that links into being dementia aware.  The "Safe Places" project aims to identify locations within a town or village where vulnerable people can seek help if they are feeling overwhelmed and need a little help.  The link will take you to details about this project.

Aggression - whilst most campaigns focus on those living with dementia as being confused but calm there are others who become loud and/or aggressive as the disease progresses.  It seems almost taboo to speak about these instances but I will do so here if only to reassure anyone looking after a loved one who exhibits this behaviour that they are not alone. "Mid-to-late stage dementia and Alzheimer's patients often present challenging behaviour problems for their caregivers.  The anger, sadness, paranoia, confusion and fear they're experiencing can result in oppositional, aggressive and sometimes violent speech or actions." (source ) The Alzhiemers Society has information and advice on dealing with dementia and aggressive behaviour.

The Care Act 2014. The Act strengthens the rights and recognition of carers in the social care system, including, for the first time giving carers a clear right to receive services. These are by far the strongest rights for carers yet. More information and support for carers at CarersUK.

Other websites:

Age UK has a section on dementia with links to other resources


Alzheimer's Support UK

Alzheimer's Research UK

Alzheimers Wiltshire for Wiltshire based support aims  to provide patients with dementia, their carers and family members with helpful resources and information.

At Dementia information about assistive technology

Culture Dementia UK previously known as Friends of African/Caribbean Carers and Sufferers of Dementia (FACCSD).

The Day Clock is designed for use in Care Homes by Designability a charity that research and design assistive technologies. They have also just launched the analogue one button radio. They already have one button digital radios and The Wander Reminder. The Wander reminder system uses personalised messages to help people with dementia maintain their daily routine. A familiar voice message can remind people with memory problems not to go out of their homes at inappropriate times of the day.

Dementia UK

Dementia OK offer advice around the needs of people with dementia, their care givers and families.

Health Talk is a chariity website that shares people's experiences of caring for those living with dementia.

Innovations in Dementia a Community Interest Company

NHS Choices

Telephones for living with dementia - there are several models such as Ownfone or  the Photophone and other assistive technology from AlzProducts

UCL Dementia Research Centre

Young dementia UK is the first national source of information and support to focus specifically on young onset dementia; created with and for younger people, families, friends and supporters.

SCIE Dementia Gateway  a website is for anyone who wants to understand dementia better: what it is, what it means for daily life, and what we can do to better support those living with dementia, including family and friends.

Talking Products for independent living

The Dementia Action Alliance is a movement with one simple aim: to bring about a society-wide response to dementia. It encourages and supports communities and organisations across England to take practical actions to enable people to live well with dementia and reduce the risk of costly crisis intervention.

The Reader Organisation - for reading clubs

WSUN - for Memory Clubs

BBC has programs on Living with dementia such as - Oct 13th 7-30pm -  and the blog post

If you have anything to share around Dementia Awareness please get in touch.


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Setting up a 100 Club to fund small projects

What is a 100 Club?

Essentially a 100 Club is a form of private lottery.  The name refers to the number of subscribers are also defines the set number of lottery tickets available eg. 100 tickets for a 100 club, 200 for a 200 Club etc. You can decide on the best number to suit the size of your organisation.

Who can Play?

A 100 club is a weekly or monthly event.  All lotteries have certain requirements: you have to pay to enter, there is always at least one prize and prizes are awarded purely on chance.

For a 100 Club - all participants must be a member or the organisation.

You should check your constitution to verify 'membership'.  Typically a CAP membership includes all local residents. 

How Much Will it Cost?

Members pay for a ticket every week or every month like a subscription.  Typically you will pay £1 to £10 a month so £12 to £120 per year.  

If there are 100 people playing at £1 - that's £55 winnings for a £1 stake and £65 to the organisation! Obviously the winnings go up the more people you have playing or the more they pay per ticket.

How Long will it last?

This should be agreed in advance. You can ask people to pay for a term or a year upfront. The 100 Club could run September to September.  By running it for a year, you can set up standing orders to collect subscriptions and thereby reduce your administration.

Do I need a Licence?

There is no specific legal definition in the Gambling Act of a 100, 200 or 500 club.

In most cases these clubs exist to promote lotteries for a 'good cause' (lotteries can not be run for private or commercial gain) and many are run by organisations such as school parent teacher associations.

The rules that apply to such lotteries are dependent on how the lottery is promoted. Typically, such lotteries are small in scale and operate under the rules for private society lotteries or a small society lottery registered with the local licensing authority and do not need a license from the Gambling Commission.There is no specific legal definition in the Gambling Act of a 100, 200 or 500 club.

In most cases these clubs exist to promote lotteries for a 'good cause' (lotteries can not be run for private or commercial gain) and many are run by organisations such as school parent teacher associations. The numbers 100, 200 or 500 refer to the number of participants in the lottery.

The rules that apply to such lotteries are dependent on how the lottery is promoted. Typically, such lotteries are small in scale and operate under the rules for private society lotteries or a small society lottery registered with the local licensing authority and do not need a licence from the Gambling Commission.

For more information please see our quick guide: Running a lottery, and our detailed advice: Organising small lotteries - November 2009.

Other lotteries may need to be licensed by a local licensing authority. For more information, see our advice: Promoting society and local authority lotteries - November 2009.

There are lots of examples of Sports Clubs running 100 Clubs to use as a template.
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How to become dementia friendly Quick tips for organisations and businesses

Nearly 50% of people with dementia only go out to do things in 
their local area once a week or less 
47% of people think that dementia-friendly areas would be nicer 
places for everyone to live. 
We can all play a part in enabling people with dementia to live well 
wherever they are. 
Every person with dementia is different. Dementia can affect: 
. memory 
. communication 
. time and place orientation 
. the ability to carry out everyday tasks 
. sight and vision 
. emotional response. 

Find out more about how you can join the growing number of organisations and businesses working to become dementia friendly.
For more information and support about dementia call our Helpline 0300 222 11 22 
There are simple ways you and your staff can help people with dementia
. Offer reassurance and understanding - Put someone experiencing 
difficulties at ease. 
. Communicate clearly - Listen carefully and use simple, short sentences when speaking to someone with dementia.
. Be aware of the surroundings - Noisy or busy environments can make 
people with dementia uneasy or add to their confusion. Consider how features of your environment may affect someone.
. Offer practical support - Be prepared to assist someone if they are finding certain activities difficult
. Offer alternative options - For example if someone can't remember their PIN allow them to sign for services. 
. For more information read our guide, How to help someone with dementia: 
A guide for customer-facing staff 

Your business as a whole can also take further action to help those 
affected by dementia. 
. Raise awareness of dementia - Become a Dementia Friend to learn more 
about dementia or become a Champion to deliver information sessions in your area 
. Start conversations about dementia - In your community, with your employees and customers, or with friends. If you have notice boards consider displaying leaflets about local services. 
. Make your organisation accessible - Ensure any signage is clear and people can find what they want easily. Think about whether your services could be adapted for people in their own homes. 
. Connect with other businesses in the community - Link up with others working to become dementia friendly for example by joining a Local Dementia Action Alliance 
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Hen Power - a cluckworthy project

Hen Power - a cluckworthy project 

HenPower is an exciting project which encourages older people to get involved in hen keeping as a way of reducing isolation and increasing health and well being. More information can be found on the Equalarts website that looks at creative opportunities for older people.

The aim of this project is to give people living in isolation a reason to get up, a purpose and the satisfaction of completing a task. But this is about more than "hens"!  The project looks more widely at rearing, caring for and creating housing for hens, using the eggs and so on to create social interactions.  And, like every good idea it's taking off.

But why limit this to hens and old folk?

Many younger people with mental health issues find interacting with animals is a positive experience.  They don't judge and they love unconditionally.  Surely there must be opportunities for younger generation with other animal charities?  Paul O'Grady, AKA Lily Savage, and his love of dogs is one example that springs to mind and many rescue homes look for volunteers.  

Watch the videos on Hen Men and the Hensioners visit for more ideas on reducing isolation in all its forms.

Animal charities relying on volunteers:

Community Farms
Dogs Trust
Blue Cross
Greyhound Rescue West of England
Greatwood rehab for Racehorses
and others

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Healthier for Longer - Wiltshire CCG launches future health plans

People in Wiltshire are being asked to support plans to encourage them
to take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. This
is just one of the principles the NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning
Group (CCG) is proposing as part of a five year plan to improve
healthcare services.

In addition, the CCG has developed a model which will provide more
care at home or in the community and ensure that there is fair and
equal access to services across the county.

Wiltshire CCG is the organisation responsible for planning and paying
for all NHS services in the county and is led by local GPs. It has
prepared a draft five year plan which sets out its plans for changing
the structure of healthcare services in Wiltshire.

Staff from the CCG are visiting a wide range of organisations and
community groups to gain feedback and opinion on the plans. In
addition, there are also a series of public meetings. Anyone who is
interested in learning more about the future of healthcare in
Wiltshire is encouraged to come along to one of four workshops around
the county that has been organised by the CCG.

Thursday 29th May

9:30am - 11:30am
5 High Street, Marlborough, SN8 1AA

Tuesday 10th June

Sambourne Road, Warminster, BA1 8LB

Wednesday 11th June

The Market Place, Salisbury, SP1 1JH

Monday 16th June

7:00pm - 9:00pm
The Market Place, Devizes, SN10 1HS

Dr Stephen Rowlands, Chair of Wiltshire CCG, said:

_The next five years will be a period of change for healthcare
services in Wiltshire. Our Five Year Plan is all about supporting
people to live healthy, independent lives in their own homes and
communities. We need to keep people out of hospital as much as
possible and we will need people to take more responsibility for their
own health and the health of others to help us do this."_
_ _
_"I would encourage anyone with an interest in healthcare to come
along to one of our public meetings if they want to understand what
these changes will mean for them and their local NHS services."_
_ _
Anyone who would like to attend one of these events or would like
further information should contact Wiltshire CCG's Communications
and Engagement team on 01380 733738 or

Image of Dr Steve Rowlands from the Gazette and Herald article by Jill Brooks on May 26th
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Indie Easter Egg Hunt in Bradford on Avon

The 'Enjoy an Independent Easter' is a campaign event from the 'Support for Independent Retail' campaign that focuses on engaging local independent businesses, those who serve consumers, to create 'activation events' which will be fun AND which will have a positive social and economic impact in their locale.

The 'Enjoy an Independent Easter' campaign event is one of 3 annual events that include 'Independent Retailer Month' and 'Celebrate an Independent Christmas'. Together these 3 campaign events create a nationwide effort to improve footfall to our high streets, towns and village centres, to increase consumer confidence, and to boost retail sales.

Briefly:  Shoppers are given a map by the first retailer they visit.  The map includes all participating businesses.  The shoppers visit a selection of shops & collect 'Easter Eggs' (which are stickers)  The 'Easter Eggs' are put onto the map alongside the shop they've visited.  When they've visited the qualifying number of shops (eg 10), they hand the completed map to the collection point  (Tourist Information Centre) to enter the prize draw on Monday 21st April.  No purchase is needed as this is about connecting people with the shops in a way that's fun for families.

This will run over the Easter holiday period from 7th until 21st April and is being promoted by Georgina Knight of The Olive Tree in Bradford on Avon. The aim is to try to keep families and visitors coming to the town during the road closure.

The Independent Easter campaign was first conceived in November 2012 by Clare Rayner, The Retail Champion & leading UK retail expert. The website has resources and templates that can be used for a campaign to help retailers connect with people from the local community, with a particular emphasis on engaging families, and therefore the next generation of shoppers.

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Create a Bee Street or Neighbourhood

How do I create a Grow Wild bee street?

Just follow the six steps below to create your bee street.

Step 1

Get together with your friends and family and draw up a plan of action. Work out how many packets of seeds you've got left over and can give to your neighbours. Give your bee street a name such as the 'Hill Street Bees'.

Step 2

Knock on your neighbours' doors and find out if they'd like to get involved. Take an adult with you if you're under 18.

Make a note of who needs a Grow Wild packet of seeds. Remember that you don't need a big space in which to sow your seeds. Even a flower pot on a doorstep will help as long as it gets some sunshine.

Step 3

Distribute the seed packets to your neighbours. If an older neighbour wants to take part but isn't able to sow the seeds themselves, perhaps this is something you can do for them.

Step 4

Have fun together preparing your patches and sowing your seeds. Combine efforts and hold a neighbourhood seed-sowing party, sharing available tools and helping each other with the preparation and sowing.

Step 5

Because you're part of the pilot, your neighbours won't be able to register your bee street at with Grow Wild so you'll need to make sure you do it for them. You can also check out who else is creating bee streets in your area and around the country.

Step 6

Don't forget to tell us how your bee street gets on. Share your pictures, tell us which flowers appear first and which are doing best. And of course, make sure we know when you see bees and other pollinators.

Did you know?

Albert Einstein once said: "If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live." That's food for thought!

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Grow Wild seed-sowing kits for youth and community groups

What's inside the kits?

  • Getting started guide - all the information you need to start your Grow Wild journey
  • Wild flower seeds - five packets of our specially-selected UK native-origin wild flower seeds. Each packet of seeds will be enough to cover two square metres - about the size of a double bed
  • Site markers - to mark exactly where your seeds have been sown
  • A bee house - to encourage solitary bees to lay their eggs and hibernate
  • Golden tickets for a prize draw and two-for-one entry vouchers for the world-famous Kew Gardens

Who can apply? 

The Grow Wild programme focuses primarily on engaging young people aged 12-25 years with UK native wild flowers, their community and the environment. 

We welcome applications from:

  • Youth groups
  • Community and volunteer groups
  • Secondary schools, colleges and universities
  • Faith groups
  • Neighbourhood groups
  • Environmental groups
  • Civic organisations
  • Groups with a specific focus such as performing arts, sports, health and ex-offenders

How do groups join the Grow Wild adventure?

  • Register for a kit (or kits), which will arrive in spring 2014
  • Decide when and where your group activities will take place
  • Start sowing and put up your bee house(s) in spring 2014
  • Nurture your site, take photos of your progress and share them with the Grow Wild online community
  • Try out the range of activities on the Grow Wild website (coming soon)
  • Sign up to the Grow Wild newsletter
  • Follow Grow Wild on Twitter and Facebook
  • Have fun!
Supported by Big Lottery and Kew Botanical Gardens
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News on the WW1 Commemoration - presentation notes to Area Boards

WW1 in Wiltshire - Community commemoration

As part of remembering 100 years since the commencement of the First World War a county-wide commemorative event will be held on Wednesday 30th July (venue tbc) to recognise the sacrifice of all those who gave their lives. All communities of Wiltshire are invited to contribute to this event by joining in with research and remembrance of the impact the war had on the people of their community.  Each community area is invited to commemorate those who fell from their parishes by:

Finding names on your war memorial
Visit your local war memorial(s) and identify the names of those remembered form the First World War. If you do not know where your local war memorials are you can carry out a search at the War Memorials Archive maintained by the Imperial War Museum. Each name will be remembered with a commemorative cross or marker. The war memorials may not provide a  complete list of those who fell and you may identify additional people you wish to commemorate.

Find out more about the people named
Who were those people recorded? You can research as much as you like but you may want to find out information such as: Where were they form, how old where they, which regiment they served with? Depending on the size of the memorial and the time you have available you may wish to focus on researching the lives of just a selection of names.

Good places to start your research are: This website records the details of over 12,000 servicemen form and related to Wiltshire.
The Commonwealth War Graves commission hold details of where soldiers are buried.
The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre (WSHC) in Chippenham holds a wealth of materials relating to the First World War. Census returns and local newspaper obituaries are particularly useful for finding out more about the life of those on the war memorial.
Visit your local library where you can access the website for free, which holds information such as WW1 service records.
There will also be good local knowledge within your community - ask around. There may already be a project happening in your area that is doing some of this research.

Find out more about your community 100 years ago
Whilst researching at the WSHC it may help to get a wider feel for what the community was like 100 years ago. Maps, parish records and photographs can all help with this.  This wider research may also pick up on the stories of those who fought and returned from the front as well as those who supported the war effort at home.  You will be able to share the stories you discover through a range of activities being planned over the next few years. Sign up to follow the Heritage in Wiltshire blog to be kept informed 

Make and present your commemorative markers
Using the information you have researched, each community area will be invited to provide a commemorative cross or marker for each person who fell from their community.  A range of markers will be available to reflect different faiths.  These will be presented at the county event on the 30th July, showing the sacrifice made by people from across Wiltshire. Further details on the format and organisation of this event and how to obtain your markers will be available at a briefing on the 1st May at the Garrison Theatre in Tidworth.

It is up to each community area to decide how it wishes to carry out the project. You may wish to work with a local school, museum or community group, or perhaps form a small working party to carry out the research.  You may wish to include this work within other commemorative events that are happening within your community or to have a special exhibition of your research.

Through the local Area Boards each community will be offered expert advice from members of the Wiltshire's Great War steering group to guide their research and produce their commemorative cross or marker.  We know that in most community areas there are already lots of commemorative activities being planned for 2014 onwards.  This project will hopefully sit neatly alongside this work locally and provide and opportunity for the whole community to come together.

What you need to do next?

Form a group within your community area (if one does not already exist) to co-ordinate the undertaking of research and the production of the commemorative cross or marker.

Register your group and which community area it represents with the Steering Group by sending and email to You will then be invited to attend the briefing session on 1st of May.

Talk to your Community Area Manager to tap inot local networks and let other people in your community know what you are doing and how they can get involved.

Register with to receive further information on this project and other world war related programmes and projects.

Register with to receive further information on this project and other world war related programmes and projects.

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Ideas from the Environment Conference in Devizes

The Environment Conference at Devizes School was attended by just under 90 people on Saturday November 30th. After a short introduction the main theme for the day was the selection of workshops for delegates to attend and networking opportunities. There were 18 workshops to choose from warm and well, planning, recycling, community agriculture, green energy, bio fuels and community land trusts.

Whilst many of the usual suspects were in attendance there were also some new faces from quite some distance away. I had an interesting conversation with a lady from Downton. I think it was also a good opportunity for those planning a Green Fayre of some description in 2014 to recruit more participants.

For myself I went to find out more about the "nothing new" concept and to find out about Freegle and Freecycle. The aim here is don't throw it away, give it away. This is all done online. You can post unwanted items online this might be furniture, or even veg that you have grown and is surplus to your needs. Because the aim is to keep it local the person collecting it won't have travelled far and it keeps the item out of landfill. It is also possible to set up a local website if there isn't one near you. The aim here is to make throwing stuff away like "drink driving" something a responsible citizen wouldn't do.

We then heard from Shirley of Transition Marlborough and the work she has done on updating and putting online a Recycling Directory. It is hoped that this may be made available as a template for other areas. They also run a Give and Take Swop Stall at the Communities Market held in Marlborough. The aim again is to recycle useable goods via a market stall, check the website for dates and details.

Next we heard about Repair Cafes being championed by Wilts Wildlife Trust. Emma will support anyone looking to run a repair café. They take 2-3 hours, and you will need 1. A suitable venue, 2. Volunteers with repairing skills 3. Public Liability Insurance 4. People need to book their repair (use half hour slots) and sign a disclaimer 5. PAT test for all electricals So far they have been run in Corsham and Warminster.

Finally lets go back to Give and Take stalls or days. This is like a" none paying jumble sale" and for that reason people struggle with the concept. There are some costs such as for the venue and marketing etc. But I am not going to reinvent the wheel! Camden have produced a toolkit for this and a PDF guide so click here for more. The only other thing to mention is you will need lots and lots and lots of Hangers and rails and keep your own bags etc well out of the way. Transcoco of Corsham have run these successfully in Box Village.

I also spent time at the Energy and Planning Workshop which was very interesting and informative and at the Community Buildings and energy audits workshop where we heard about the experience of the Quakers Hall in Bradford on Avon. They refurbished the sash windows to double glazed units, placed reflective sheets behind the radiators and lined one small room with a wooden insulating material that absorbs condensation. Carol Southall od Community First will complete a basic 1 day energy audit for £250.

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Wondering what to do with your apple glut?

Well you could take your crop to your nearest apple pressing event; there are several that happen around the county of Wiltshire during October and November.


You could invest in buying or hiring equipment and organise an event yourself.

What do you need?

. Apples - cookers and eaters
. People
. Some method of shredding/crushing the apples
. A press and straining bags
. Clean Bottles
. A way to pasteurise the juice for keeping
. Someone with pigs to take the pulp or for composting

You need to have sterilised the bottles before you fill them. This means washing them out thoroughly, then filling them with warm water containing a little sodium metabisulphite. Screw the lids on firmly and lay the bottles on their sides. Leave the solution in the bottles for at least half an hour, turning them once or twice to ensure that every part of the inner surface has been disinfected. Immediately before filling them with juice, rinse the bottles out with warm water

The steps:
1. Collect or pick your apples
2. Quarter and remove damaged bits
3. Put apples through a crusher/shredder
4. Place inside straining bags to give a clearer end product
5. Fill the press with crushed apples.
6. Fill the clean bottles
7. Pasteurise for storage
8. Compost the pulp by mixing it with straw or paper or feed  it to pigs who will love it, preferably before it starts to ferment!

To preserve the juice, it either needs to be frozen or pasteurised. This can be done by placing the bottles into a water bath and heated until the contents reach 70ºC, then keeping at this temperature for a further 20 minutes, before removing, screwing the lids down firmly and leaving to cool. An automatic preserving cooker / pasteuriser takes care of this: you set the temperature and minutes and leave it to do its thing.  Otherwise stand the bottles in large containers of water over a heat source at 70 to 77°. Don't overheat the juice or it will oxidise, spoiling the flavour. Before the pasteurised juice cools down, screw the tops back on the bottles. Then lie them on their sides, so that the warm juice sterilises the lids, which might have picked up some germs while the bottles were cooking. And you're done

If you do not pasteurise the juice it will begin to ferment in 2 or 3 days and become cider since the sugar in apples means it naturally ferments with no additives. Pasteurised juice can be stored for anything between 6 months and 2 years, depending on how it is stored. - See more at:

Small presses and shredders are available from good kitchen shops or online stores such as Amazon or Ebay, but do shop around or get advice before buying.

It is also possible to extend the lifetime of the juice by freezing it.  Anyway I hope you found this article useful.  Don't forget other fruits can be juiced as well. Happy Pressing!


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Up-cycling & running a swish event!

Warminster recently held a Swish! - an up-cycling event to get peopleto donate/swap old clothes rather than have them sent to landfill.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust are working in Warminster for 6 months with the aim of encouraging the local community to reduce the waste they send to landfill.  Emma Croft, the WWT officer worked with Jen Gale, local upcycler and blogger, organised a Swish in July.  The below article explains how they organised the event. 

They also held a Repair Cafe and Green Teen workshops with the local Youth Group.

"We had a really great mix of  'Swishers'-ladies of all ages came to Give and Take, and a jolly good time was had by all.
One lady even said that we should do one every two weeks, and then none of us would ever have to go (clothes) shopping again!"

If you are sat there thinking 'what a great idea, I wish we had one in my town', then why not put one on yourself!

This is their simple 'How-to' guide.

This is what you need:

A venue
Warminster used the Skittle alley at the wonderful Organ Inn - which they let them use for free, so immediately had no overheads. Look around your local area to see if any of the pubs have a back room, or function room-it works well in this sort of venue, as it brings the pub new customers, people can come and have a browse, go off and have a drink and then come back again for another look around later on in the evening. Or stay all evening with a drink and have a natter! It made for a real atmosphere of  a proper night out!

De-clutter your own wardrobes, get donations from friends and family and then obviously ask people to bring stuff along. When people arrived, they handed over their stuff and the organisers laid it out while people started to rummage

Some way of displaying the clothes
Tables - use tablecloths/decoration to give a pretty vintage look.  Also a hanging rail - IKEA sell them fro £20/£30 or your local am dram or even a local shop may let you borrow one.  Dressmaker's dummys, mannequins and wooden towel rails are also good.  Other ideas include stringing up some clothesline and using wooden pegs etc

Somewhere to try things on, and a mirror. 
A folding screen things,used in the corner of the room, as an impromptu changing room or fabric to curtain off an area.

Nibbles (optional)

A seamstress
This is optional- but Warminster had a local lady Verity on hand to give out advice on altering anything that didn't quite fit or to give ideas for how items could be altered or embellised to enhance them - this was a great 'service' to be as it certainly helped people look a little differently at some of the items.

Upcycled Bunting - Jen says this is obligatory!!

Publicity-posters etc.

This is what you do:

Find a venue and set a date! 
Friday night worked well for us, and it was very much a bit of 'night out' but think about what would work best in your town.

We plastered the town in posters, put an ad in the local paper and shouted about it on Facebook and Twitter.  Set it up as an event of facebook and invitee all your friends and ask them to share it.
Contact your local paper-they might do a small feature on it beforehand for you, and also the local radio stations.
It is often also worth e-mailing all the local schools to see if they will put it on their newsletters, and that way you can let all the parents know about your wonderful event

Decide on the structure of your Swish-ours was deliberately kept very simple- the 'price' of entry was at least one item of clothing, and a donation to the Wildlife Trust if people wanted to. And then people had free rein to take whatever they wanted to. There was a small concern that some people might just bring on one rubbishy thing, and then swan off with armfulls of stuff, but this really didn't happen at all-in fact, almost the opposite-most people were worried about taking too much, or kept asking how they had to pay!

A couple of people also asked about donating 'higher end' stuff-like a Boden coat and a Karen Millen dress, worried they wouldn't get their 'money's worth' and my advice was just that if they would begrudge someone else having it, then it might be better to try it on E-bay.
Some Swishes run all sort of token systems, giving various amounts of tokens for items, depending on their quality, and the label, and then people can hang onto their tokens for the next Swish if they don't see anything they like.
As this was the first one we had done, and we were unsure of how well attended it would be, we just kept it as simple and informal as possible, and it seemed to work well-I think everyone went away happy!

And that's about it! It really is very easy.
We will definitely do another, and it would be great if it could become a regular thing.
We had thought about having a BigSwish in a bigger setting, with an upcycled/vintage/charity shop fashion show, and entertainment/stalls etc, but for now, I am more than happy with what we acheived last night.

I love that it is a way of getting people to Make Do and Mend without even realising they are doing it, and a way of starting up a conversation with people about all kinds of sustainability issues, without coming across as preachy or worthy.

AND it was a really good night out!
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A Guide to the Do's and Don'ts of Writing a Press Releases

The Do's and Don'ts of Writing a Press Releases

The focus is on press releases for the papers but it's basically the same when dealing with radio.....

The first thing we looked at is the language we were using and what we were writing about. ...

  1. Go back to school:
    Learn something about copywriting - how to "sell" the message. If we can't make the story interesting to the journalists, why would they want to repeat it? The book "Write to Sell" by Andy Maslen is really useful -
  2. Simply the language:
    I was finding that I was falling into "third sector speak" - saying things like "we aim to build partnerships with organisations and individuals to create an inclusive memorial of the first world war " rather than just saying "we want to bring people together to remember the first world war".
  3. Understand the audience:
    Who is the audience? What matters to them? Why should they be interested in your story? Choose an angle for your press release that will be attractive and positive. For example don't talk about a new activity as "a way to deal with obesity and avoid long-term health issues and the burden they place on the NHS", talk about "a way to boost your energy levels, meet new friends, feel great and have fun".
  4. Have a title that sums up the story
    Try and have a Press Release title and email subject that distills the essence of the story into a single short sentence. However, don't try to be the editor of the Sun coming up with a jokey headline or an awful play on words. Keep it short. Keep it interesting. Keep it factual.
  5. The next thing was to make the journalists life as easy as possible. Journalists are busy and have little time to spend on each story. The easier you make their life, the more likely they are to feature your story....
  6. Use email:
    Journalism runs on email these days. Put it all in an email and make sure that you send it to an individual. Generally the local "beat" reporter will be obvious from a quick read through the local paper. Email allows the journalist to cut and paste useful pieces of text, web page addresses, phone numbers etc
  7. The key points:
    Make sure you answer the key journalistic questions of the "Five Ws"...
    Who is it about?
    What happened/is happening?
    When did/will it take place?
    Where did/will it take place?
    Why did/will it happen?
  8. Get it in in time:
    Give the journalist time. Get your press release in early. If the paper comes out on Thursday they've probably finished writing it by the end of Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Get it in by Monday, or Tuesday morning at the very latest if you know the journalist and have managed to build up a relationship (see below).
  9. Include everything they might need:
    The journalist might need additional information or may need to check the facts. Include everything they might need for this such as website addresses, contact names and phone numbers.
  10. Keep it short:
    Try to keep the main press release down to a few paragraphs and just focus on the key points. Should they need more the journalist can contact you or look at the web pages you told them about. Make sure that it's clear where the key text finishes and the additional resources start (i.e. don't include all the website info and phone numbers in the main press release text).
  11. Include a quote:
    If you can, include a short quote from a named source - e.g. Fred Smith, Chair of Anytown Community Area Partnership, said "This is an exciting project and we think that it will make our area better". The journalist probably won't use it - they prefer to get quotes themselves - but it's something else that might add texture to their story if they're short on time.
  12. Finally, build a relationship and treat the journalist with respect. A single article in the local paper can reach a lot of people. A good relationship will help you to get your stories published. Keep in mind...
  13. Don't broadcast press releases:
    Send a separate email to each journalist. If you want them to take the time to read it the least you can do is to take the time to send the email personally direct to them.
  14. Personalise the email:
    Start the email by addressing them by name if you know it. However it is better to leave it off altogether rather than using impersonal formats such as "Dear Sir/Madam" or "To whom it may concern"
  15. Have reasonable expectations:
    Not all your stories will be published. There is competition for space and sometimes your project may just not be interesting enough. Don't take it personally & keep plugging away.
  16. Say thank you:
    If they've put your story into the papers, say thank you to the journalist in a short email. If you've built a relationship you don't need to do it every time but it's important to say it sometimes to show that you appreciate them.

(Mark Allen MVCAP Coordinator 2013)

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Commemoration of the Great War - Four Years of Projects and Events

Events commemorating the Great War will take place across the globe over the next 4 years 2014 to 2018. 

Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) will be available for communities to commemorate this centenary.  The HLF are recommending that bids for funding cover the events/projects planned for the total four year period as opposed to applying for funding piecemeal during the next four years.

  1. Plan a meeting of all individuals and groups that might like to partner or participate in events or projects,  Remember to approach any local museums, churches or schools for this process.
  2. Discuss any local historical events or stories from that period that you might want to incorporate.
  3. Assign researchers if necessary and set deadlines for information to be reviewed.
  4. Decide on topics for events or objectives and aims for the Four Years.
  5. Present the plan to your community and get them to engage with it.  Review any feedback and incorporate it into the plan.
  6. Plot a timeline, resources required and review if your Four Year Plan meets the communities expectations.
  7. If applying for HLF funding complete the Pre- assessment phase and get the input of one of HLF's development managers.
  8. Feedback HLF's comments and finalise the details of your plan.
  9. Ensure that the people and partners needed to deliver the planned outcomes are on board and understand deadlines, outcomes and timescales.
  10. If applying for HLF or other funds complete the applications and apply before the deadlines.

There will be lots of activities going on across the county, remember to talk to neighbouring communities so that similar events do not overlap or compete with each other.  Also the key dates of the commemoration will have national events so avoid those if you can. I have written up some notes with links to resources, case studies and ideas for events or projects.  It is available to download from our Resources section.


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A Snapshot in Time - A Community Project with a multitude of uses.

We all have old photographs or newspaper clippings lying about that we look at from time to time.  At my home we have a large collection featuring the village and inhabitants of times gone bye.  When we have a get together, as we did last year for the Jubilee, the older generations like to reminisce over the images and recall old friends and events locally.  In 2001 we had a community book published for the Millennium with images of people outside their houses for the whole Parish.

Then earlier this year I visited the Melksham Museum at The Well House.  They had a mock-up of the High St showing old images of what it used to look like.  This got me thinking.  Wouldn't it be great to do this for a street, village or neighbourhood for future generations or to help with community planning or just as a way to get to know everyone.  We all like history in some fashion and we all live it.
So here are a few ideas on how to go about it:

1. Define the area that you want to cover.  This could be a village or town centre, a street or a geographical area that has some meaning. Define the objectives of the project. Do you also want to include heritage buildings in particular, natural features or other sites of interest within that landscape.

2. Decide if you want to record amenities and activities, from the village fete, beating the bounds, local walks or bike rides, harvest festival or some other annual tradition. Is one aim is to collect local folklore or stories of a historical nature for a record of oral history.

3. Decide if this project will need funding and if so how it will be raised.

4. Publish an article or produce a poster or letter and send it to all the residents of properties that you want to cover - residential and /or commercial.

5. Invite all interested parties to a meeting to explain the project and what the outcomes or benefits will be. This could also be a fund raiser.

6. Once the material starts to come how are you going to use it/present it.  Will it be online on a website or online scrapbook.  Will it be printed and displayed for sharing and comments.  Do you plan to keep adding and updating so it becomes living history. Are you using it for community engagement for another project like a village design statement or to promote tourism?

7. Delegate tasks to be completed with deadlines.  Decide on photographers, recorders and researchers for old images and other material. Agree a team to put the project together in your chosen format.

8. Arrange interim meetings to measure progress and review material to identify gaps.

9. Once completed arrange an event to present the completed article to the community. Again this could be a fundraiser.  

10. Will it just be presented to locals or a wider audience? Arrange publicity for the launch.

As I said this project lends itself to a number of themes:  Tourism, living local history, community engagement and planning.  It is also an opportunity to bring together different generations for a common cause.
If you would like to see how our Millenium Book turned out online click here.

Next year will see the beginning of 4 years of commemoration of the Great War.  If your project intends to incorporate this event with histories of local individuals who served in any capacity or to mark the change in society and the way women began to work outside of the home, or to record some traditions that arose from the conflict or were lost because of it.  Funding may be available via heritage lottery or others from various sources.  For those communities looking for more information about those who served from Wiltshire there is a website called The Wiltshire Soldier that might be useful.  The Womens Land Army was started during WW1 and reformed in WW2.  The early 20th century saw a radical change in technology and opportunities for women amidst great social upheaval.

Whatever you choose to do with his project have fun learning from the experience.


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WFCAP Version Scavenger Hunt

There are many ideas for Treasure Hunts for younger children in a safe environment.  The Net Mums website has several ideas for the younger ones.  Teenagers however are looking for something a bit more challenging.  So how about a scavenger hunt?

  1. Participants can first be asked to make something to wear on their heads, from a hair-comb, to a fancy, a bonnet to a flat cap or trilby.  Alternatively make something special for the occasion like a mask or a waistcoat.  To promote the "mend and make do" ethos it could be only from recycled materials.
  2. The organiser needs to make a list of items to make/collect or photograph.  These should then be written on scavenger hunt cards and given to the scavengers at the start.
  3.  Items to collect/make could be: A daffodil; an Easter card; an Easter chick; a piece of ribbon; a chocolate bunny; a painted egg, novelty Easter earrings or bracelet; a poster or advert for a local community event; a DVD that refers to a rabbit and so on..
  4. A list of things to be photographed with could be: An Easter bunny; daffodils; in a local coffee shop; at a local play area; by an iconic local site or heritage site; by the fire station/police station; in a local museum or library; on a local bus; by a church or village shop; by the oldest local building or tree and so on..
  5. You could also choose to make the hunt a mix of collecting and photographing if that better meets your needs.
  6. On the day on the scavenger hunt, properly attired (the best dressed might gain points, a prize or some small advantage), each person, pair or group is given the scavenger card with the list of things they are to collect or photograph. Mobile phone cameras can make photographing an easy option.  
  7. All the scavengers start together at a specified time and place.  
  8. If the scavenger hunt is collecting items, it may be necessary to give each group a fixed amount to spend.  
  9. They should also be given a meeting point to return to by a specific time so the winners can be determined and for safety reasons.
  10. Other ideas might be a treasure hunt where clues are given to find hidden objects or to follow a set route where photos are taken as proof that the route was followed.

The National Trust has Geocaching events, which is the modern version of a treasure hunt using GPS coordinates and there are other websites that run geocaching around the County as well.

The point is that each hunt can be tailored to meet your needs and is a great way to engage young people and get them outside.  So now that Spring is around the corner why not give it a try.

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Fund raising quiz night

Step 1 - Find a venue
It could be your social space at work, your local pub, a community hall or even your garden.

Step 2 - Spread the word
Try promoting it by email, Facebook and twitter, text your friends and get them to spread the work or create an event poster for shops and noticeboards.  Don't forget parish magazines and local websites.

Step 3 - Pick your quizmaster
Find yourself a charismatic person, with a load clear voice and a sense of fair play, and then persuade them to be your quizmaster.

Step 4 - The questions
Some quizmasters prefer to write their own questions but there are sets available online.   The pubassist website has a large number of downloads. Make sure no-one else has access to the answers.

Step 5- Make some money
Decide whether you want to charge for entry by the person or get teams to pay a fee between them. Teams of four are the average. Whatever you decide make sure it is clear on the advertising for the event.

Step 6 - Make it your own
Each team could for example register a name - like Rhona's Romans and appear in fancy dress.  Or there could be mini prizes for the fastest answer or specific questions that are harder or more technical.  What about a speed section? A separate answer sheet would be best for that handed in after the set time.

Step 7 - Name that team

Get people to write their team name on the top - bonus point for the one voted the best.

Step 8 - Work out the winners

Hand out answer sheets or read out the answers.  Have another team mark the answers or designated people to collect them in.

Step 9 - Celebrate success

Announce the winners and the amount raised and what it is for.

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Toads and frogs crossing roads

The Toads on Roads project has been running for over twenty years and we know of around 880 toad migratory crossings.

Common toads are very particular about where they breed and often migrate back to their ancestral breeding ponds each year. They follow the same route, regardless of what gets in their way, which sometimes leads to them crossing roads. Where we get this toad vs. traffic scenario, the toads inevitably come off worse.

The Toads on Roads project registers these sites as 'migratory crossings' and helps coordinate local Toad Patrols, who can apply for road warning signs to be installed and actively help the toads across the road.

Part one of this project is to check if your local Toad Crossing has already been registered and if not register it.

1 Check the active map for your crossing

2 Check the map of unknown sites for your crossing

3 Check the map of inactive sites for your crossing

4 If your crossing is not on any maps then you can register your crossing via the Froglife/Toads on Roads website with the Department for Transport database.

5 To register the site you will need to know the road name and, preferably, a grid reference (otherwise a postcode), plus a brief description of the site itself including the length of road the toads are using.

6 It's important you know how many toads, and/or other amphibians, you saw so the size of population can be determined. Unfortunately small populations may not warrant registration.

7 Your contact details will be required - that way a confirmation letter can be posted  to enable you to keep in touch with updates and newsletters; your details will not be displayed on the Toads on Roads website and will only be passed on to potential volunteers to man Toad Crossings with your permission.

The Froglife, Toads on Roads website contains further information and guides to projects. As part 2 of this project you can download a  pack for setting up and running Toad Patrols.


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Setting up A Flood Group

Forming a Flood Action Group
Forming a community based flood action group to work on behalf of the wider community in finding ways to reduce flood risk, has proved very effective across England and Wales.
Flood Action Groups are a representative voice for their community and their aim is to work in partnership with the Agencies and Authorities whose work involves flood risk.
Through these 'grass-root' groups, communities are able to;
 .address their concerns over malfunctioning assets/and other issues
 .be constantly in touch with what is intended for their community
 .know procedures that are already in place regards routine maintenance
 .have a voice as to the future flood risk of their community through consultation.
 .Instigate 'flood watchers'
 .Create awareness of flood risk to the wider community
 .Prepare to reduce the impact on the community should a flood event occur
The National Flood Forum supports communities in the formation of Flood Action Groups, gives tools to ensure their success and sustainability and initiates the first meeting with all the right professionals needed.
We believe in simplicity, realising that we all have lives to live and spare time is short.

Use the link to find the 10 step guide in setting up your Flood Action Group.

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Stepping Stones - linking wildlife habitat

In partnership the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and North Wessex Downs AONB has been successful in winning £140,000 of Government funding to deliver an exciting new project called Stepping Stones.

This project will take place on the Pewsey Downs and the West Wiltshire Downs. It will run from 1st October 2012 to 31st March 2015. The Stepping Stones objectives are:
. To connect high quality wildlife hotspots, such as County Wildlife Sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves, by  creating habitat links and stepping stones of habitat so that individual creatures and species can hop from one to the other, thereby expanding their range.
. To enhance the areas around the best wildlife sites, buffering valuable habitat.
. To create spaces for collaboration and sharing best practice.
. To gain the involvement of local volunteers and organisations in the design, delivery and monitoring of the project.

Help us to create Stepping Stones between Wiltshire's wildlife hotspots

If we can work with people to reconnect the landscape by creating functional links between high quality habitats, then we will be able to reduce the ecological isolation of habitats such as species rich chalk grassland and populations that are at risk, such as the marsh fritillary butterfly. We have started identifying key areas where links will have the greatest ecological impact so that we can start working with landowners to establish appropriate management within an effective corridor.
There are many ways to get involved. For instance, we will want to enhance some areas with wild flower plant plugs grown from seed of local provenance. You might be a local gardener who would like to help us do this, or you may be part of a Garden Club, Horticultural Society, school or community group which might like to be involved?
It is expected that we will be establishing voluntary schemes with farmers on the intervening arable land between areas of high habitat quality, or we may use Environmental Stewardship options, to create corridors and stepping stones. On-going agronomic advice and support will be part of the package so that these corridors and nodes of habitat are maintained and managed well.  For more from the Cranbourne Chase AONB Autumn Newsletter click here.
To get in touch, call David Blake at the AONB Office.

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Do you like to Knit?

Do you like to Knit?
Teddies for Tragedies aim is to create a central location where charities and volunteers who want teddies can ask for them.
It puts teddy knitting groups in contact, to better fulfil the needs of charities wanting teddies.
It helps knitters and groups find homes for their teddies (and other knitted items).
Teddies for Tragedies is not a charity, it is a knitting pattern.
Since its inception in 1985 hundreds of thousands of teddies have been knitted and given to charities and volunteers to bring a smile to children.
Teddies and other items are usually knitted by local groups and given to charities operating locally.
There is no national organisation, and no need of one, anyone can knit a few teddies for a cause near their own heart.
To find out more about the patterns and those looking for knitted items click here.

To complete this project.

  1. Find out who needs teddies, or other knitted items in your locality and by when.
  2. Recruit local knitters who can follow the pattern and instructions.  This may form the basis of a knitting club where older people pass on their knitting skills.
  3. Ask for donations of wool that fit the pattern requirements.
  4. Find a suitable venue, and time for the group to meet.
  5. Start knitting and keep track of who is doing what.

Board Games Club - social interaction across the generations

Autumn is here and the nights are drawing in. So many people will spend their time watching TV or surfing the net or with social media. Here is an idea for social engagement in your community that will bring people together for some fun that doesn't have to cost very much.

Board Games Clubs can be simple or more complex depending on the games you choose to play.  It could be an after school club were young people play and learn social skills as well as strategy by learning to play Checkers or Chess, Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders. Alternatively, adults playing complex games such as Lord of the Rings or Ticket to Ride on large tables, or old favourites such as Cluedo and Scrabble.  The fact is there is a huge choice and many of us have one or two stashed in a cupboard.

So what do you need?

  1. A venue with tables and chairs and probably some refreshments available.  It might be a pub with a large room, a village hall, a school, or someone's home or barn.  With public venues you might negotiate a lower rate of hire if you are bringing in customers on a quiet night.  If it is a community not for profit venture then a community venue might be offered at cost. 
  2. Next you need players.  Decide if this is for a specific age group such as 14 to 19's or for everyone old and young.  Many clubs take 14 years old and upwards. 
  3. You will need to let people know what you are planning.  Be clear about what games are to be offered, start and end times, fees (if any) and whether people should bring their own games.  It might be that this is run as a trial during school holidays, as a mid-week low cost chill out for working folk, or as a lunch club.  Whatever you decide communication with the possible game players is important.  
  4. Advertise via leaflets, noticeboards, free papers, parish magazines, email, social media and websites.  You could ask your local PTA, milkman or paper delivery person to help spread the word.
  5. Decide what games you will have available and make sure someone knows how to play and can pass on the rules.  The whole idea is that beginners can learn from knowledgeable players.  Some visitors may choose only to watch for a while.
  6. You may need some method of deciding whose turn it is to play a popular game.

The variety of games is huge even without including card games!  The club is what you make of it. So why not give it a try? 

There are some clubs in Wiltshire.  There is a Board Games Club in Frome for more click here.  Also in one in Chippenham for more click here.

The top of the line is a club called the Triple Helix Wargames Centre that developed into a business in Westbury and won the Wessex Association of Chambers of Commerce Wiltshire New Business Competition 2010/2011. Visit here.

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Battery Recycling

If batteries are thrown into your normal rubbish bin, they are likely to end up in landfill. Once buried, the batteries start to break down and can leak some of these chemicals into the ground. This can cause soil and water pollution.

1. Choosing your battery recycling supplier

The approved schemes are:
. Budget Pack
. BatteryBack
. CCR Rebat
. DHL Battery Compliance
. ERP UK Ltd
. REPIC eBatt
. Valpak
More information about approved schemes.

2. Be informed -Battery recycling general information

You can also take your batteries to your local Household Recycling Centre for more information about recycling facilities in Wiltshire visit Recycle for Wiltshire.
It is advisable to join a registered battery recycling scheme for a number of important reasons.
A scheme will ensure you can comply with the 'Duty of Care' when storing batteries. If you are in possession, or have control of waste, you have a legal 'Duty of Care' to store it safely without causing pollution or harm and to only transfer it to someone who is legally allowed to take it. The Duty of Care applies to everyone who handles waste; from the person who produces the waste to the person who finally recycles or disposes of it. The Duty of Care is one of the main ways to combat fly tipping.
If you move the collected batteries, for example if there are smaller collection buckets in shops but then you as a community group takes the smaller buckets and decants into a larger buckets, then you will need to consult the Environment Agency for advice on the need to have a waste carriers licenses. A battery scheme should go through this with you. More information from DEFRA

3. Sustainability and Funding

The Community Area Grants available from your local Area Board are specifically for charities, community groups, town and parish councils looking to set up a community project in Wiltshire.
For more information about the Community Area Grant scheme please click here.
To view a copy of a successful application is click here.
We recommend you discuss the grant application with the community area manager before applying as they can give you help and advice. Click here for a list.
Additional funding opportunities and further toolkits and projects can be found on the WWCN funding pages.

4. Making the most of the scheme- building on success

Some supported schemes supply posters and promotional materials. Whether this is the case or not ensure that any information on posters or websites or collection points is accurate and includes your group's details. This will ensure that your group is linked to this helpful and practical project and becomes raises your profile with your wider community. You then are known and trusted when you embark on future projects.

5. Do you want to get started?

Then please read and complete WWCN's helpful Community Battery Project action plan by clicking here.

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Fairtrade Fortnight has just ended but there's still so many more ways to go Fairtrade - how about getting your mum some Fairtrade flowers or chocolates for Mother's Day? Every step counts!

1. Find out more! 

2.Choose an idea

Check out the following ideas for inspiration and choose something your group could do:
.Inviting a friend out for a Fairtrade coffee
.Organising a Fairtrade chocolate tasting at school
.Telling your friends on Facebook about your favourite Fairtrade product
.Buying Fairtrade tea bags when it's your turn at work
.Asking your local shop to stock more Fairtrade choices

3.Add your step!

4. Start advertising

Download some free campaign material and information to help publicise your step and encourage others to join you

5. Take your step!

Every step counts towards our total of 1.5 million steps we're hoping to achieve by the end of 2012 - one step for every farmer and worker in the Fairtrade system.

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Dark Skies

Dark Skies campaign aims to preserve and restore the beauty of the night sky by campaigning against excessive, inefficient and irresponsible lighting.

1. Get the forms

Ask your  Area Board for the Forms and Notes to complete this project.

2. Choose the street lamps

Note the street lamp numbers of the lamps you wish to turn off  (on the posts) and/or location(s) on a map.

3. Inform your vilage

Send out the consult letter informing those affected of the plan for the lights and the options detailed in the notes.

4. Get consent

Generate a consent form and ask all those affected to sign it to demonstrate their consent.

5. Put in your application

Check forms are complete and forward to your Area Board for approval and for forwarding to Council for action.

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Get Tweeting!

Twitter allows you to send short messages to tell the world what you're doing, thinking, reading or whatever else you feel like saying. If you use Facebook, think of it as being like the status updates. The service allows you to follow people and be followed by people. The people you follow will form your network and their updates will appear on your Twitter homepage. The people who follow you have chosen to have you in their network and see your updates.

1. Go to Twitter and create an account

You can give yourself any username you like but it's best to choose something that people who know you will recognise: that will make it easier for them to find and follow you and fill in your biography. Say something about yourself and what you're likely to be talking about. It helps people to decide whether they should follow you.

2. Post your first tweet

It should go in the box underneath the question "What are you doing?" and it must be 140 characters or fewer. Soon you'll start building your network and you'll want to have something on your page when your first visitors arrive. Try to post something that, in conjunction with your biography, will give people a reason to follow you. "Trying to understand Twitter" is fine as a first post but you need to follow it up very quickly with something more individual. Try posting a link to the most interesting article you've read recently, for example.

3. Start building your network

Look for friends and colleagues who are already using the site by clicking 'find people' at the top of the page. When you find someone who you want to add to your network, click on their name to see their page and then click 'follow'.  Following people is the easiest way to let them know you are there and some of them will soon start following you in return. Your page will display a count of the number of people following you and the numbers you are following. You can stop following people in your network at any time by going to their page, clicking 'following' and then clicking 'remove'.  Each time you find someone you want to follow take a look at who they are following. Add anyone who looks interesting and even a few people you aren't sure about. The more, the merrier. Try to add around 100 people so that you have a busy network. Remember - you can prune your network as you get a feel for who's who.

Don't be disheartened if it takes a while for your number of followers to grow.  You'll also be given recommendations by Twitter for who to follow, as you tweet more and connect with others the recommendations will become more focused and specific to you.

4.Join a conversation

You can send a public reply to people by putting @ before their username and then typing your message. The person you are replying to doesn't need to be someone you are following and doesn't need to be following you for the @ system to work. On, a reply button will be visible when you hold your cursor over a message. Clicking this will add the @ automatically.  Click Settings on and then Notices to decide how @ replies are displayed within your network. If you choose "all @ replies" you'll see conversations people in your network are having with others. This is a good way to find new people to follow.  If you want to send a message to someone but don't want all your followers to see it, you can send a direct message.

5. Add a link

If you want to post a link to a website or article you find interesting you'll need a link-shortening site. So go to a site such as TinyURL, copy and paste in your link and get a shorter URL to help you stay within that 140-character limit.

There are lots more tools to learn but this will give you a start and if you like it WFCAP are running a course soon on social media.


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Jubilee Woods

The UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe with only 4% native woodland cover.  But we need at least twice as many native trees and woods for the sake of wildlife and people, to combat climate change and improve our environment.

1. Decide on where you want to plant your tree

The trees must be planted by a community group or school on land that people in your area can enjoy and benefit from (not private gardens or land with no public benefit). Get lots of people involved - planting is a great community activity! Your community should be consulted and supportive of your project before you apply.

2.Get permission

Ask the permission of the landowner before applying and find out a grid reference to identify your planting site. Visit the ordnance survey website to look online at your planting site and identify the grid reference. Search for your local area using place name or postcode. Zoom in until you can clearly see the area you have identified for tree planting on your screen. Select the 're-centre' option and then click the centre of the intended planting area to ensure it is in the middle of your screen.  Once you have found your chosen location, look just below the map to see the 'grid reference at centre' information. There will be two letters followed by six numbers (8 characters in total i.e. SK905356). Northern Ireland grid references begin with a single letter (i.e. J338780).

3.Make your pledge here!

4.Apply for your pack here

5.Plant your tree!

Bring your community together to plant free trees from the Woodland Trust - and grow your own food, create new homes for wildlife and bring beautiful autumn colour to your local area.

The Woodland Trust has a fantastic range of FREE tree packs available to communities.

Individual trees, small copses, traditional hedgerows and woodland are invaluable features of thriving neighbourhoods in our villages, towns and cities. They enhance the places where we live, learn, work, rest and play.

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Plastic Bag-Free Town

British shoppers use more than 17 billion plastic bags per year - the equivalent of 350 for every adult. We use each one on average for only 12 minutes before throwing it away. Plastic bags are destined for landfill almost as soon as they are created, and add to the 2.8 million tonne mound of plastic waste produced in the UK every year. Some ends up in the sea, with every square mile of ocean now containing an average of 46,000 pieces of plastic, which choke and entangle sea birds and mammals.

1 Know your stuff

You need to be able to give informed answers to the questions of traders and shoppers, the first of which is bound to be, 'what's wrong with plastic bags?' Learn about the impact they have on the environment, and about the broader issues such as landfill and unsustainable lifestyles and have other success stories to hand: in Ireland there has been a massive (97.5%) reduction in the number of plastic bags given out since shops started charging for them.

2 Source an alternative

The ideal is to get people to use a reusable bag made from natural, compostable materials. An average cloth bag will save the owner from using at least 1,000 plastic bags. You will also need to find alternative disposable bags for shops to stock while people get into the habit of bringing their own bag, however, and for when they forget. Cornstarch and paper are both used in Modbury, but there are many options. Charging for bags will discourage people from using disposable bags and mean that traders can cover the extra cost of the nonplastic bags, which are more expensive.

3 Marketing & Support

You need a core team, including traders, prepared to do much of the legwork and willing to work together and to try to get the message out to everybody else! Keep the local press up to date and involve as many existing groups as possible. Making postcards and posters to display in shops, and tying in your campaign with other local events such as festivals can also work well. Having a brand or logo is a 'simple way of sending out a strong and coherent message'. 'It's crucial to get all or at least the majority of traders involved,' Handling supermarkets and highstreet chains is one of the biggest difficulties for a community going plastic bag free. Often chain stores need permission from head office, or even for company policy to change before they can act. Contact the area manager of your local supermarkets and other chains right at the beginning of your campaign to inform them of your plan; if they are unresponsive try head office.

4 Funding

'There is no reason why start-up costs should be prohibitive; you just need to work with what you have,' In Modbury, the first town to become plastic-bag free, the start-up costs were kept very low and covered by the traders themselves, who each paid £50 towards bag design, posters and setting up the website. The different campaigns around the UK have found various sources of cash, so look around to see who will support you. Friends of the Earth, local councils and community councils, local chambers of commerce, co-ops and recycling charities have all provided funding for plastic bag free campaigns.

5 The launch

To get the media and residents interested, start your campaign with a bang. In Hebden Bridge, campaigners set themselves a target of getting 80 per cent of shops to remove plastic bags on the launch day. Good PR is essential and a handout of at least one cloth bag per household is also a great idea if you can afford it - 'people love freebies,' says Hosking. For brightly coloured bags made from scrap material at no charge, try Morsbags.

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Town Benchmarking

AMT Benchmarking is a working, practical example of the government agenda of localism as developed in the Localism Bill, with key stakeholders and volunteers in town centres working together to firstly measure economic performance before using the data to implement initiatives and projects. Some towns used the data as evidence to unlock funding, while others used it to measure the impact of initiatives and developments.

For a town partnership to have credibility its work needs to be evidence based and it needs to be able to measure performance over time.  The web based system gives you a way of capturing useful data about your town in a simple step by step way.

1. Become a member of AMT for free through WFCAP's partner membership

Just contact wfcap for more details.

2. Find Volunteers

You need a group of people willing to work on the project, a perfect project for an economy group or you could contact your Town council or Chambers of Commerce members.  You'll need to commit to just a few days over a year.

3. Sign upto AMTi Benchmarking

There is a cost but you save £50 if signing up by 31st of March, and if you contact WFCAP asap there is a possibility of a funding stream we've heard of.  Alternatively it would be a great grant bid to your Area Board.  The money pays for the handbook which leads you through the data collection phase ensuring a consistent, standard
approach and use of an on-line recording system to capture the information in a simple and straightforward way.

 4. Carry out the benchmarking

The 12 Key Performance Indicators that are measured are:

  • Total number of commercial units
    The balance of comparison/ convenience retail
    Key attractor/ multiple trader representation
    Number of markets/ traders
    Number of vacant units
    Prime retail property yields
    Retail rents
    Footfall counts
    Car parking availability and usage
    Business confidence survey
    Visitor satisfaction survey
    Shoppers origin survey

5.Recieve your report

Town Benchmarking provides a unique analysis and picture of individual town centres. The data can be used as a one-off or longitudinally, so any changes or promotions in the town centre can be measured.The real benefit of the system, however, is that the annual report generated for each town compares the data on each of the twelve KPIs against a national figure for all other Benchmarking towns, and other towns within your region and type.

This in-depth data offers market towns a tangible insight into how their town centre is performing, what is working well and what can be improved.

Allied to this, national figures can be built up year on year in terms of what is happening to our towns countrywide.


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Setting up No Cold Calling Zones for vulnerable residents

Wiltshire Council have a toolkit to enable community groups to set up No Cold Calling Zones (NCCZ) in areas where there are a high number of vulnerable residents. 
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