Communities Week – social success in the South East
09 Nov 2023
We’re reflecting on our fulfilling work this year with communities near our network
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It’s Communities Week at National Highways, and we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate some of the worthwhile support we’ve given to locals alongside our roads.
You see while our focus is maintaining and improving roads, we believe having a positive impact on our neighbours is just as important.
We’ve encouraged our colleagues and supply chains to take advantage of our regional social value funds, and the results this year have been rewarding. Take a look for yourself!
Ten volunteers spent the day helping local charity Dandelion Time. The charity works with Kent children who are experiencing serious behavioural and emotional difficulties as a result of trauma, together with their families.
The farm setting provides the opportunity for families to experiment, play and connect within its fields, gardens, and woodland, and the volunteers spent the day carrying out garden maintenance including planting, weeding and bramble clearing. And anyone found assing around, got the special job of mucking out the donkey stables!
Over the last few months, we’ve been spreading special seeds for plants that encourage pollinators such as bees, butterflies and beetles as part of our work to help the fauna and fauna on the verges along the A27. Our green-fingered team made a beeline to Arundel Church of England Primary School to give pupils on their best beehive-ior a lesson about pollinators and make ‘bee bombs’. Made up of a mixture of seeds and soil, ‘bee bombs’ are used to spread seeds, while protecting them from predators and providing the perfect environment to germinate.
Ciara from our partner Chaffins, who led the session, said: “with pupils taking home a bee bombs made up of a mixture of wildflower and grass seeds including Bulbous Buttercup, Chamomile, Common Birds-foot-trefoil, Common Knapweed, Common Spotted-orchid, Lady’s Bedstraw, Red Clover, and Wild Thyme, we hope they will start to see pollinators visiting the plants they’ve grown, as well as on our verges.”
Pollinators are so important, as the majority of the world’s flowering plants need a pollinator to reproduce. With most of our food coming from flowering plants, pollinators are critical to food production.
Leaving a legacy is not just about a new road or improved junction, it’s also about the local area. So, we were delighted when Hartlip Parish Council asked us to support a tree planting scheme to commemorate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. English oaks were planted on parkland in Lower Hartlip, which now forms part of Hartlip’s conservation area.
Near Swanley, we also planted more than 3,500 native trees across three sites near Pinks Hill balancing pond in a mission to protect and enhance the local environment.
Tree’s such as Beech, Hawthorn and Sweet Chestnut will be a beautiful addition to the area and come with a number of biodiversity benefits, providing fruits, nuts and nutrition for wildlife and invertebrates. We want to make sure this new community woodland continues to improve. To make sure the trees thrive, we’ll visit these sites regularly to check on progress and assess their condition.
After a quick make-over, Guildford Safe Haven is now an even more welcoming place for everyone. The team working at junction 10 on the M25 helped create a new sensory garden for autistic adults at a special residential facility in Surrey.
Together with contractors, as well as with the National Autistic Society and The Glasshouse Botanics, they created a garden that’s not only a lovely place to enjoy the outdoors, but has also been designed as a therapeutic space to relax and find some calm.
Thanks to donations from our contractors and the work of 80 volunteers, the gardens at Stonepit Close have been developed to help people living with autism explore their senses in a safe and stimulating environment.
It was ‘on your marks…set…bake’ back in September, all in the name of charity. With rewards handed out for star baker, and the best faker, project teams enjoyed well-earned coffee and cake breaks as part of the nationwide Macmillan Coffee Morning, all while raising an amazing £1913 in total!
Staff from across National Highways and many of our partners took part in the Great British Beach Clean, joining other volunteers on Whitstable Beach in Kent, and Solent Beach in Bournemouth.
Braving the wet and windy weather, almost 70 volunteers – and Bobby, the French bulldog – collected more than 18kg of waste from the Solent beach, that’s about the same as two watermelons. This included large pieces of polystyrene and an old buoy, which is now Bobby’s favourite new toy.
In Whitstable, the sun might have been shining on the 28 volunteers, but they got the ‘bum deal’ as they found a couple of pairs of underpants amongst the six bags of rubbish and detritus they collected at this popular tourist spot.
Elsewhere, we took on the verges of the #A34 near junction 9 on the M3 and won; collecting rubbish, tyres and many other things from the roadside. Thanks and well done to everyone who took part.