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A brighter future ahead for city centre nature reserve

[lead]Brighter Sunnybank is a new project to enhance an urban nature reserve in a deprived area of Sheffield.[/lead]

Sunnybank nature reserve is adjacent to Broomhall, which is within the poorest 7% of neighbourhoods in the country according to the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation. Communities like this need accessible green spaces where people can connect with nature, and Sunnybank is freely open and available to everyone. Thanks to funding of almost £10,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund, Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust are able to help the local community look after their ‘back garden’ and enjoy the benefits of this much-loved urban oasis with the Brighter Sunnybank project.

The project will also help the Trust to foster new and strong relationships between local people and their local nature reserve. Some of the planned improvements have been suggested by the Reserve Advisory Group – an informal gathering of people who live nearby and regularly use the reserve, providing insight into what the community needs and wants. The grant will also help community involvement by promoting practical conservation sessions. Local volunteers are planting bulbs at the main entrances and sowing wildflowers in the two meadows to improve the habitat and provide an explosion of colour. To make sure no-one is excluded from being able to enjoy the reserve, benches will be installed and a section of steps will be restored to improve access, while measures are being taken to open up the views for visitors to enjoy.

Marta Alfaro Tirado, the Trust’s Land Management Team Officer has been touched by the community’s response to the project. She explained:

“Brighter Sunnybank is a great opportunity for the Trust to build a strong relationship with the people who live close by this urban reserve. Thanks to National Lottery players, the Awards for All funding means we can improve the experience for all the visitors who enjoy the respite of this quiet spot just metres away from one of the busiest roads in Sheffield. Working with members of this community has been an extraordinary experience for me, as they shared with me how important this nature reserve is for their well-being. So far, just a few weeks into the project, we have been offered all sorts of help by the neighbours; one of the most thoughtful was being offered water on a very hot day!”

Abdou Sidibe, Regional Head of Funding for Yorkshire & Humber region at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support this group in turning their inspiring ideas into practical projects that will help their local community thrive. When people and communities come together, great things happen – the Brighter Sunnybank project will give local people the opportunity to connect with nature, work together to learn new conservational skills and enjoy the benefits of green spaces just yards from their doorstep.”

If you would like to get involved with the project, join the Reserve Advisory Group or come along to one of the regular volunteer workdays see