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Students improve community spaces in Coleford

7 November 2017

Two groups of Gloucestershire College Foundation Studies students have been volunteering their time to help improve community spaces at the Angus Buchanan V.C. Memorial Recreation Ground in Coleford; developing skills as part of their Discovering Independence and Exploring Independence courses.

Since autumn 2016, both groups have undertaken weekly sessions to complete a range of projects; engaging with the local community, gaining funding from local businesses and supporting the objective of the trust to encourage engagement in, and respect of, community spaces.

Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 November will be the last sessions this year, before the students continue with the project in spring 2018.

The 10 Discovering Independence students helped to clear an area which will transform into a sensory seating area and garden; carried out a survey on the lack of use of dog waste bins; created posters to encourage responsible dog ownership in the park; and painted a shed.

While the eight Exploring Independence students have worked on clearing areas of woodland to improve the habitats of wildlife; dead hedging projects; and birdwatching.

They have also been learning how to plant small plants, bulbs and seeds, which will be designed to help encourage and feed bees and other pollinator insect species, and produce a colourful display of flowers in summer for visitors to enjoy.

Sarah Cheese, spokesperson for Angus Buchanan trust, said: “We are delighted to have the help of GC students to help to maintain and improve this beautiful community space for people to enjoy and also increase wildlife biodiversity of the area.

“The students and staff have been really enthusiastic and hardworking, and it has been a very positive experience for us to offer these volunteering opportunities to them. We look forward to working with them on future projects.”

Sharon Batcock, Foundation Studies Lecturer, said: “Our foundation studies students have been doing an excellent job working on separate projects for the Buchanan Park Trust. Volunteering in the community helps them gain working evidence for their courses, which ultimately build their confidence and improve their social, personal and independent living skills.

“I’m especially pleased with their engagement with local businesses, who we are grateful to. Not only did students gain funding from the Linley Wightman Shaw Foundation to purchase two owl boxes to encourage the local owl population, but also donations of wood for planters from International Timber, topsoil from Peakstone Construction and £700 for materials from the Martin Wills Wildlife Maintenance Trust.”

19-year-old Adam Leaver, a former Heart of the Forest School pupil from Cinderford, said: “Working in the park has helped local people as we have made posters asking dog walkers to clear up their dog waste.”

20-year-old Jenny Grindle from Lydbrook said: “We made bird houses to keep the birds safe and warm,” while 16-year-old Sam Gwilliam, a former Heart of the Forest pupil from Cinderford “enjoyed making the bird houses for the birds to enjoy.”

17-year-old Tom Witts from Coleford added: “We planted some strawberries and I most enjoyed the weeding and digging.”

All Gloucestershire College students benefit from a unique student development programme incorporating work experience, which is designed to offer new experiences, challenges and opportunities that develop and prepare them for the world of work or university.

For more information, and to secure your place on a course in 2018, visit

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