Sunday, 28 May 2006

Wet weather, and the AGM

All the rain we've had lately might have interfered with your half term holiday, but it's been good for our young trees. They've thrived in the wet weather. Let's hope the summer is sunnier, but not too dry.

Under the terms of our constitution and the agreement we have with the Green Light Trust, EGGS must have an AGM within 15 months of the last one. Accordingly, we’ll have an AGM on 30th June.

EGGS steering group members may, or may not, stand for re-election, and anyone else who’s interested is welcome to nominate him or herself. If you have special skills that could be useful, that would be great, but enthusiasm is our main requirement. We need people with a passion for trees, the countryside and the community, with a “can do” attitude. Even if you’re not physically fit, there are plenty of ways to make yourself useful. If you’d like to know more, please get in touch.

The Green Light Trust, which supports the Elmsett scheme, provides training and other resources. So far, we haven’t taken advantage of what they’ve offered. There’s an opportunity in the near future, open to anyone involved with EGGS and the school. The trust’s new HQ, the Foundry in Lawshall, is the venue for a course on Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th June. The Forest School Skills Award Level 1 course would normally cost £250, but their special offer price is £150. EGGS could pay for a steering group member or supporter who’d apply the resulting skills to our scheme. It’s a fully accredited course with the Open College Network and will be led by an experienced team of accredited Forest School Leaders, providing an OCN certificate. It’s aimed at teachers, teaching assistants, nursery nurses, youth club leaders, and anyone interested in working/playing with primary age children in the great outdoors. For more information on Forest Schools and an application form, please contact Adrian -, tel. 01284 830829, and please let us know if you’re interested. The trust can also help by arranging Criminal Record Bureau checks for anyone who’s going to work with children.

At the last EGGS steering group meeting, there was disagreement about disabled access. The Disability Discrimination Act covers outdoor spaces that are open to the public, such as our scheme. According to guidelines published by the Countryside Agency, together with English Nature, the Rural Development Service, and DEFRA, we are expected to provide access “by all reasonable means”. Failure to do so could result in a challenge in the courts. Opinion was divided between those who felt that it’s “too soon” to think about disabled access to the Elmsett scheme, and those who felt that we should find out as much as we can about our options so we can incorporate access as the scheme develops. For example, we could visit other schemes in the county who can show us what they’ve done to provide access for disabled people, and see how we might adapt some of their ideas. The term “disabled” isn’t just about people in wheelchairs. It includes:
  • people with poor manual co-ordination or little strength;
  • people with sensory impairments, including impaired sight and hearing;
  • people who lack memory, concentration or understanding;
  • people with progressive conditions, such as MS, HIV or cancer.
If you have any useful information on the subject, please get in touch.

For more information, see:
The Fieldfare Trust, promoting countryside access for disabled people.
By all reasonable means: inclusive access to the outdoors for disabled people’ from the Countryside Agency (PDF)
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