Black2Nature & me

Black2Nature & me

I am President of an organisation called Black2Nature, which I set up when I was 14 years old and is Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) led.  We campaign for equal access to nature for all, especially VME communities who are currently excluded from the countryside. We run nature camps,  arrange nature activities, organise race equality in nature conferences and campaign to make the nature conservation and environmental sectors ethnically diverse.

If you are able to donate money to us or you are able to volunteer for the nature camps or helping behind the scenes please contact equalityinnature@gmail.com.

I have organised eight nature camps for inner-city mainly VME children and teenagers, getting them engaged in nature by making it relevant to them and having plenty of VME role models. The most popular sessions are those where the young people can get close up to wildlife like bird ringing, mothing and even bio blitzes. The young people are all individuals and so, as such, like different sessions. The camp for teenagers is called Camp Avalon and is 2 nights and takes place on the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury. The camp for primary age children is called Camp Chew and is for 1 night and takes place in Compton Martin in the Chew Valley. Other activities are birding, nature sketching, nature photography, making nest boxes, looking for Nightjar, bats, mammal traps and camera traps.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Avalon 2015
Photograph copyright young brder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig bird ringing & holding a Marsh Tit
Photograph copyright young brder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

We ensure the young people attending our camps come from a varied background including different VME backgrounds and religions, White British young people from areas of deprivation within the city as well as those from affluent backgrounds in the countryside where they have little contact with VME young people with strong customs faiths. It is really important for community cohesion for the young people to mix together and spend time with people they do not normally get time with, to break down barriers and reduce radicalisation on all sides.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Chew 2017
Photograph copyright young brder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Chew 2017
Photograph copyright young brder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

After my first nature camp in 2015, I wrote to the CEO’s of the four biggest nature conservation NGO’s starting a conversation about the lack of diversity in their organisations, whether Trustees, staff, volunteers or members. I had a positive response from them but I decided that due to school I needed to meet them all together and save time!  The Natural England’s Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) Report March 2019 looked at how often children visited green spaces. 73% of none-VME children visited frequently, which drops to 57 % for VME. 75% of children from higher socio-economic groups (A & B) visited frequently whilst 65% for lower socioeconomic groups (C & D). Therefore, clearly, race and ethnicity have a larger impact than poverty, although this does have an impact.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Avalon 2016 Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

I have interviewed VME elders about their lives growing up “back home”. All talked about their rural childhoods, swimming, being out in nature and helping with family smallholdings. However, their grandchildren’s generation mistakenly thinks their heritage is urban, however, we can still engage them by referring back to their country of ethnic origin. 83% of British people live in cities, with a disproportionate number of VME living in bleak inner cities. NGO’s must, therefore, start to communicate with people from all ethnicities and backgrounds. The starting point is for their HR, IT and Finance teams to become ethnically diverse, which leads to improved performance. Therefore, these discussions led me to organise a conference in June 2016, called Race Equality in Nature Conference kindly sponsored by Bristol Zoo which I opened and then with the Key Speakers being Bill Oddie, Kerry McCarthy, Stephen Moss, Dr Richard Benwell, Monira Ahmed Chowdhury, Rachel De Garang & Jini Reddy and lots of experts in race equality, diversity and inclusion. Those who were there commented that it was the first time that those working in conservation had met and discussed the issues with those from BME communities or experts in racism. We had workshops on what were the barriers to VME people getting out into nature, what could be done to overcome the hurdles and creating VME role models.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig with Bill Oddie at Race Equality in Nature Conference 2016
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig
Young Scots at Race Equality in Nature Conference 2016Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Since 2015, I have been leading the campaign to make the environmental sector diverse. Of environmental professions, only 0.6% are VME the second-worst sector for diversity after only agricultural ownership. I have had meetings with many of the leaders of conservation organisations, speaking at conferences and writing on the topic. This is an article that I wrote for the Chartered Institute of Ecology & Environmental Management. I was also the Minister for Diversity in Conservation in Chris Packham’s People’s Manifesto for Wildlife and was the first speaker at his People’s Walk for Wildlife.   I and Black2Nature organised another conference with Emmanuel Adukwu at UWE Bristol which took place on 2nd October 2019 called Race Equality in Nature: The Next Gen 13-30. As set out above and would like to invite you to take part. The speakers including Asher Craig (Bristol Deputy Mayor), Cleo Lake (Bristol councillor for the Green Party),  Zakiya McKenzie (Black & Green Ambassador), Lara Lemi (Bristol University STEM student and organiser of BMEinSTEM Conference, Chris Packham (Nature presenter), Stephen Corry (CEO Survival International) and Becky Speight (CEO RSPB). The conference aimed to work through the journey of a VME young person, highlighting the racism within the sector that needed to be addressed.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Youth Strikes 2019
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

We expect half of those attending will be in senior roles in the nature conservation & environment sector, nature media and environmental education with the other half being BME educators, conservationists & environmentalists and experts in race, diversity & inclusion as well as BME communities.

Links

Camp Avalon

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2015/06/camp-avalon-in-making.html

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2015/06/camp-avalon-friday-19-june-2015.html

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2015/06/camp-avalon-saturday-20-june-2015.html

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2015/07/camp-avalon-sunday-21-june-2015.html

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2015/06/camp-avalon-review-and-planning-for.html

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2016/07/camp-avalon-2017.html 

Diversity

http://birdgirluk.blogspot.com/2016/06/how-ethnicity-and-wealth-are-impacting.html

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Volunteering at Camp Chew 20-23 June 2019

Volunteering at Camp Chew 20-23 June 2019

Bio blitz
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

 

Youth Worker at nature camp for teenagers from disadvantaged, VME or rural backgrounds.

We desperately need volunteers from 20-23 June 2019 at Compton Martin & Chew Valley near Bristol.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Photocopyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Camp Avalon 2017

Photography copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

 

Volunteer tasks

By 17 June 2019 – split between volunteers

  • to prepare an Eventbrite report with contacts for children/volunteers.
  • to finalise the camp programme and e-mail parents/volunteers.
  • to finalise a breakdown of tasks with who is responsible for what.
  • to prepare and print parent consent forms.

Camp Avalon 2017

Photo copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig


On 20 June 2019 Campsite 10 am and 6 pm

  • to help move camping equipment from storage to the campsite;
  • to help put up 6 large tents;
  • to help set up all equipment needed for the campsite; and
  • to help do food shopping.

 

21 June 2019 1.00 pm to 3.30 pm 

  • to finish setting up at the campsite.

 

21 June 2019 3.30 pm to 5.00 pm

  • to travel back to Bristol with our driver.
  • to pick up the minibus before picking up children.
  • to ensure parents sign consent forms.
  • to remind parents that they need to both come to pick up their children for a camp feedback session and so the children can have their free gift.

Camp Avalon 2017

Photo copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

 

21 June 2019 5.00 pm to 22 June 4.00 pm

  • to be nature volunteers engaging teens in nature activities; or
  • to work as a youth worker engaging with VME children age 7-11 year olds at our nature camp;
  • to talk to children about nature;
  • to talk to children about how going outside helps with mental health;
  • to talk to children about the need to protect the environment
  • to talk to children about what they can do to help the environment and wildlife
  • to support nature volunteers who are providing expertise;
  • to supervise football games
  • to help with camp cooking, supervising toasting marshmallows, washing up and tidying up, serving meals;
  • to ensure children have the equipment needed for sessions;
  • to ensure children pack up all their belonging.

Working on our camps will leave you feeling incredibly positive about the future.

Media – to take photographs and video footage, interviewing the children about their experiences at the camp, how they have benefited and about how it made them feel from a wellbeing/mental health point of view.

Camp Chew 2017

Photo copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

22 June – 4 pm to 6.30 pm

  • to travel back in the minibus with the children;
  • to help set up a table and Gazebo outside St Pauls’ Resource Centre with literature from Time to Talk, a mental health charity;
  • to talk to parents with their children about the camp, how the children enjoyed getting outside, how it was good for their mental health and academic achievement, what the parents can do to carry on with that in terms of continuing to take their children outside and enjoy nature.
  • to then talk to the parents about mental health in order to raise awareness of the issue;
  • to let the children have their free water bottle after these discussions have taken place;
  • to if possible, video the parents about what they feel the benefits for their children have been.

 

23 July 10 am to 5 pm

  •  To take down tents, pack up campsite and put into storage.

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Camp Chew June 2019 Flyer

Camp Chew June 2019 Flyer

 

Black2Nature
Camp Chew 2019 – Fri 21 – Sat 22 Jun 2019
Camp Chew 2017
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig
A nature weekend for children aged 7 to 11, who will love
  • Having fun outside in nature
  • Using the outdoors to get fit & healthy
  • Trying new things like camping
  • Making new friends

 

How to Book
  • Book on Eventbrite
  • Text or phone Helena on 07798818772
  • E-mail helenabcraig@hotmail.co.uk

 

£10 per child (or £15 for siblings) with free places offered
Free transport from Bristol
Food all vegetarian (or halal fish and chips available for lunch)
Location – Compton Martin Amenity Field BS40 6JN
Children supervised at all times by DBS checked adults

Work With Me

If you would like to know more about what I do or what services I offer, you can find out more below.

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Kit List Camp Chew 2019

Kit List Camp Chew 2019

 

CAMP CHEW KIT LIST

Please note: This list is for guidance

Please label everything with the child’s name

 

General
Small backpack to carry belongings
(no large suitcases, large bags or plastic bags)
Completed and signed parent consent forms
Torch/phone with a torch (or this can be borrowed)

 

Mealtimes

1 drinks bottle (to carry a drink during activities)

1 Extra blanket for sitting on (if you have one)

 

Clothing (in addition to what they arrive in)

The number of clothes must be sufficient for 2 days /1 night with a spare set of clothes

1 Warm comfortable clothes for bedtime

2 T-shirt

1 Warm tracksuit-top / fleece / hoodie

2 Outdoor trousers or tracksuit bottoms (jeans are not ideal but ok)

2 pairs of underwear and socks (thick socks if you are wearing wellies)

1 Wellie or old trainers (as they might get muddy – or let us know the size)

1 Warm waterproof coat
1 Cap (so no hair styling needed)

1 Woolly hat (if the weather is cool)

 

Other items

1 small towel or flannel

Washing kit (minimum of toothbrush & comb)

Plastic bag (for wet/dirty clothes)
Suncream and hay fever medication as pollen counts higher in the countryside

Medication – must be named, in a clear plastic bag and handed in or if needed kept in a safe place

1 mobile phone may be brought

 

Do not take to camp:
Any food items due to allergies including sweets/snacks
Anything electronic such as electronic games, MP3 players, I-pods, etc. They are too easily damaged or lost
Shell suits/nylon clothes – extreme fire injury risk
Aerosols, matches, lighters, or any other flammable liquid or gas – these are dangerous
Anything valuable

Camp Chew 2017
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

 

If you are not sure of anything on, or not on, this list, or do not have items then please ask Helena Craig, who can be contacted on 07798 818772 or helenabcraig@hotmail.co.uk

 

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Philosophy behind Black2Nature camps

Philosophy behind Black2Nature camps

Camp Chew March 2019
Black2Nature is committed to Enabling Visible Minority People (VME) and those from disadvantaged and deprived backgrounds to get outside into green spaces where ever they find them and so engage with nature, by Working with nature conservation & environmental organisations, Nature TV & media & nature education sector to adopt diversity as a core value, ensuring their staff, volunteers, trustees and membership become diverse; ensuring training on equality, diversity and inclusion and VME communities; carrying out monitoring throughout their organisations and committing to making change;

Enabling those from VME and areas of deprivation to access nature and as the outdoors is essential for physical activity and health, mental well-being, enjoyment of our beautiful planet and to ensure our cities become sustainable;

Sports at Camp Chew March 2019
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Ensuring that the children and volunteers who attend our camps learn about nature conservation and environmental issues through our discussions;

Discussing how our camp being vegetarian benefits the planet, why litter is bad for the environment and wildlife and why we are aiming to make our camps zero waste.

Total waste from Camp Chew March 2019
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig
Thank you

Thank you to Compton Martin Village Hall and the many people who have supported Black2Nature and these camps and to Chew Valley Ringing Station and the birders who have offered their time in order to pass on their knowledge to young birders. Thank you also to Yeo Valley for the donation of ice cream and butter.Thank you to Opticron for the donation of five pairs of compact binoculars and discounted optical equipment to this project and to Bristol Ornithological Society for the donation of £2500 for 20 pairs of binoculars.

Thank you also to Go Outdoors for discounted camping equipment and Blenheim Scouts for discounted use of their minibus. Thank you also to Burns Price Foundation, Quartet Community Funding, Community Access Support Services and Alpkit for helping to fund our projects.

 

Work With Me

If you would like to know more about what I do or what services I offer, you can find out more below.

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