The Ecology Centre praised for transformational impact on young volunteer Cameron
12th February 2019
A community centre in Fife which enables people of all ages to safely engage with the natural world has been praised for making a real difference to the life of one local volunteer.
Supported by The National Lottery, The Ecology Centre is an inclusive, community-led charity located by Kinghorn Loch, which inspires positive change through bringing people and the natural environment together for the benefit of both. Open seven days a week, The Ecology Centre – initially based at Craigencalt Farm – has been changing and influencing lives since 1998; today the community-owned site is a haven for wildlife, plants and those that love them.
One of the centre’s many volunteers, Cameron, has also become one of its most meaningful beneficiaries. Cameron, who is on the autistic spectrum, has been a supported volunteer since March 2016. When he initially started, he did not engage in conversation or make eye contact with any of the staff or other volunteers and found it difficult to focus, however he has since settled in and now finds it easier to concentrate on tasks.
David Stockwell, General Manager at The Ecology Centre, said: “The biggest change we’ve seen in Cameron is that he is much more inclined to be involved with staff and volunteers in terms of conversation and will make and hold eye contact with staff and volunteers. He will also come into the office and speak to the office staff and engage in light-hearted conversations.
“The change has taken a while, but he is now much more settled on a Wednesday, our volunteering day. His parents have also seen a big difference in him and have fed back to us to say said how pleased they are.
“We’re all very proud of the progress he has made and it’s just one of many examples we have of The Ecology Centre making a real difference to the lives of locals, all thanks to the invaluable funding we have received to help us continue to grow our reach.”
Thanks to £920,000 of National Lottery funding, The Ecology Centre recently created its ‘Passivhaus’ building and developed land on the eastern banks of Kinghorn Loch – land bought with help from Scotland’s Community Right to Buy Scheme. The single storey building was constructed to the energy efficiency standards for what is known as a ‘Passivhaus’ and has a sedum roof, which has helped it blend in with the landscape and act as insulation too.
Further innovations include the conversion of seven shipping containers to house educational activities, the charity’s Tool Shed, the creation of a Community Garden, a pond, a polytunnel and a series of paths around the site. Volunteers have planted trees, wildflowers, fruits and vegetables, and the famous ‘Loo with a view’ composting toilet was built as well.
David added: “We’ve just celebrated our 20th anniversary and are proud to say that we are continuing to do what we set out to do all those years ago at Craigencalt Farm - inspiring positive change through directly connecting people and the natural environment.
“We are continually developing the land and Community Garden around our site to ensure it is bursting with biodiversity and is a welcoming place for everyone to come and enjoy nature.”
Wednesday is the charity’s main volunteering day, where it welcomes up to 30 volunteers from all age groups and all walks of life, like Cameron. There are lots of different tasks to get involved in and all come together for lunch made by staff and kitchen volunteers, using as many fruits and vegetables from the Community Garden as possible.
David continued: “Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, get out of the house and learn some new skills or for volunteers to share their skills and experience for the good of the local environment and local community. We are very fortunate to have a fantastic group of volunteers at The Ecology Centre who are very much part of the team.”
More than 7,500 National Lottery grants have been invested into arts, heritage, sport and community projects in Dundee, Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross since 1994.
To find out more about the centre including volunteering roles, visit: www.theecologycentre.org
To find out more about National Lottery Good Causes visit: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk or follow #ThanksTayYou.