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Local children celebrate opening of new environmental learning hub at Derbyshire farm

Published on Wednesday 5 June 2019

Turner Farm in Swanwick, Derbyshire is home to a new environmental learning hub thanks to the generosity of Midlands contractor G F Tomlinson. To mark the official opening of the hub, children from the local community joined the company and Derbyshire-based youth charity Valley CIDs to ’test out’ the hub. 

The Turner Farm Project is an innovative education initiative run by Valley CIDs to provide local children with alternative learning options and the new hub will enable the charity to offer broader learning opportunities to children and young people about biodiversity and how we can preserve it.  

The scheme was delivered through the Scape Regional Construction framework in collaboration with G F Tomlinson and has transformed a disused area of the farm into an outdoor classroom, including a bespoke 5x4m field shelter which provides a base for children to study local wildlife in their natural habitat.  

Support for the project was provided by the contractor’s sister company, Total Hire & Sales, which donated plant and equipment for undertaking the works, and local supply chain partner, Alliance Group Solutions, which donated the materials to create the base for the shelter. 

Turner Farm, which was originally established in 1740 to provide poor and disadvantaged local children with an education, is comprised of a cottage, farmhouse and outbuildings on 48 acres of agricultural land. After falling into disrepair in 2009, Valley CIDS merged with the Turner Educational Charity to revitalise the site and once again offer a safe and engaging learning space for children who are disconnected from mainstream education. 

Craig Stopper, framework manager at G F Tomlinson, said: “We were introduced to Valley CIDs and their Turner Farm Project by our friends at Business in the Community and we saw immediately how important this site is in creating alternative learning opportunities for local children and young people. Our partnership with Scape through their Regional Construction framework placed us in a position to support the charity and ensure Turner Farm continues to leave a lasting legacy. 

“The environmental learning hub is a space that will have a tremendous impact on the local community, expanding the education provision at the farm and ensuring disadvantaged children get the opportunity to learn more about the environment.  We have worked closely with the charity and the staff at the farm over the last 12 months to understand their aspirations for the space and develop a solution that would meet their needs. 

“This project has been the result of meaningful collaboration between local businesses and organisations who all share a passion to invest in social value initiatives which deliver benefits to the local community. It’s been a pleasure to see everyone come together for such a worthwhile purpose.”

Ian Tannahill, director of young people’s services at Valley CIDs, said: “Our primary focus at Turner Farm is to support the personal development and educational attainment of young people who face barriers to accessing mainstream education. We know that the traditional classroom learning environment fails to cater for their learning styles and needs and it is therefore important for us to provide alternative learning spaces and opportunities that inspire the young people to learn.

“The new environmental learning hub is a prime example of such an inspirational learning space. Having also worked diligently over the past number of years to both protect and enhance the biodiversity of the Turner Farm site, we are thrilled with the addition of the hub.  It fits in wonderfully within an area of the site where we have been developing pond, wetland, horticulture and nature trail areas and enables young people to have a front row seat to the action.  We are therefore very grateful to G F Tomlinson for their generosity and support with this project and we know that it will make a difference to the lives and learning opportunities of many young people.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, said: “Being part of a Scape framework requires strong levels of client and community collaboration, and this fantastic initiative demonstrates that G F Tomlinson is not only meeting these requirements but embracing and exceeding them with innovative ways to give back to the local community.”

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