Tavistock Youth Cafe has received a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery’s Awards for All to work on a project creating purpose-built duck houses for the town’s sensory garden and BMX trails.
This new undertaking is for those that are part of the cafe’s Momentum Project — a weekly session held during term time for young people who are home educated or facing barriers to learning, and/or education in mainstream schooling.
To build the new duck houses, since last month, two groups of young people in the project head to Caradon Woods in South East Cornwall on Mondays and Tuesdays. Here they join forces with Phil Harwin and Aydin Boyacigiller of social enterprise Greenwood Music to learn the skills required to build the boxes, such as drawing designs and handling specialist equipment whilst acquiring woodworking knowledge at a sawmill.
As they put their new skills to creative use in the woods, the youngsters also enjoy lunch which they cook on a campfire.
Vicki Lloyd-Walsh, manager of the youth cafe, said: ‘We asked the sensory garden if there was anything we could do to help and they asked for duck houses to be built. As we have two groups we choose to have one for the BMX trails as well, this is very popular spot for nesting ducks.
‘It’s really important for young people to take ownership and give back and we’re enjoying the opportunity for them to build relationships with the community gardeners here.’
The project will also come with a musical spin, as those creating the duck houses are also making a xylophone for the sensory garden. Installation of the duck houses has begun but work is still continuing, with walkways and living roofs yet to be added and detailing to be completed.
They are estimated to be finished by July 19, at which point everyone involved will receive a certificate in the name of John Muir, an adventurer known for discovering and exploring natural places.
In addition to this new venture, those in the Momentum Project have also previously engaged with a range of other activities such as bouldering, conservation work, foraging and working with Dartmoor rangers and the Tamara Landscape Partnership Scheme in the Tamar Valley. Vicki said: ‘It’s very rewarding for all those involved, who may never have seen themselves doing something like this, to develop these skills. Many are finding that they’re really good, taking to it like naturals and gradually seeing the results of their hard work as they progress each week.’