People in Wandsworth gain an insight into grounds maintenance and landscape conservation on Tooting Common, with support from idverde and training partners.
Wandsworth Council has been awarded just under £1.4m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as part of a larger £1.9m scheme to explore, restore, conserve and enhance the cultural and natural heritage of Tooting Common.
One of the many strands of the project is to support local people to gain new skills and employment in the borough. Wandsworth Council has been working in partnership with idverde, Enable Leisure and Culture, SLIC Training, and Job Centre Plus Wandsworth to deliver the council’s Tooting Common Heritage Project’s Employment Skills and Learning Project and help local people find jobs in ground maintenance and landscape conservation.
Thanks to National Lottery players, in the first year of the project 15 candidates have taken part in the bespoke Level 1 City and Guilds Diploma in Land Based Studies (Environmental Conservation), developed in partnership with Enable Leisure and Culture and SLIC Training. 11 candidates passed the course with Merits and four candidates achieved Distinctions, a fantastic achievement.
Andrew Kauffman (idverde Assistant Director – Customer Support) said:
“It has been a pleasure to work in partnership with our partner organisations in Wandsworth to develop this bespoke accredited training offer as part of the Tooting Common Heritage Project. It is great to see the confidence of candidates grow during the course. To then see them moving into full time employment is extremely rewarding, and testament to the dedication of all involved, but particularly the hard work of the candidates themselves.”
As a large national and local employer in the green spaces sector, idverde is always keen to encourage young people into the industry. Projects like Tooting Common Heritage Project allow young people not currently in education, employment, and training to gain an insight into an industry that they may not have considered previously. As well as providing them with key skills and recognised qualifications, the training empowers the students to find work in the industry. The scheme also provides local residents in Wandsworth with the opportunity to learn new skills and supports them in taking a more active part in the open spaces where they live.
Cllr Cook, Spokesman for Wandsworth Council, said:
“It was a pleasure to meet the idverde team and their candidates. You could see their enthusiasm and the candidates’ desire for a career in ground maintenance and landscape conservation, and I’m delighted these training opportunities are being seized. It’s great to see the borough’s residents taking a hands-on role in restoring this wonderful historic common.”
Dameon Napoli, one of the participants who undertook the Level 1 Diploma course, said:
“I have loved worked outside in the fresh air – I was working in a betting shop before this – so a big change – totally different! I live locally and have always brought my children here to play. Now I have made a positive impact on this space – it’s great. As well as that, I’ve learnt some new skills and got some more qualifications, so it’s all good.”
Billy Mohan, another course participant, added:
“I heard about this opportunity at the job centre – they had an open day. I decided I wanted to give this a go. I have really enjoyed being able to work outside in the Common. The first week was key for us all, as it was spent more on safety and maintenance of the equipment we’d be using. That gives you confidence.”
Fellow participant, Carl Taylor, commented:
“I’ve been working outside for a few years now – but maintaining and improving the common is special. Working outside really suits me as it keeps my mind busy.”
Participant Ana Viera, also said:
“Doing this has made me feel very protective of the areas we have worked on in the Common – almost maternal. I’m keeping my eye on one particular honeysuckle we planted, every time I come and visit a friend who lives nearby. What I have realised is that there are certain things you just take for granted in any open space – that I now know are hard work to maintain.
“We started at 8am and finished about 3pm to do an hour of class based coursework. I loved using the strimmer – once I was all in the gear I didn’t want to let the other guys have a go! I’d be really keen to turn this into a job with idverde. This has been a great starting point though, and I have transferable skills I didn’t have before.”
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If you would like to get involved with other skills and employment opportunities as part of the Tooting Common Heritage Project, please contact Susanna Kryuchenkova, Project Manager at SKryuchenkova@wandsworth.gov.uk
For further information on the Tooting Common Heritage Project, please visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200073/parks_and_open_spaces/1903/tooting_common_heritage_project