Many of you know that I have grown up in Cumbernauld. My family moved out here when I was only seven, and to me the open fields around Westfield were just heaven. I would walk for hours following butterflies and rabbits, exploring the old farm fields, hedgerows and woodlands. Things have changed in so many ways now.

I am older for a start, and those green fields and woods have given way to progressive urbanisation. I see deer and foxes occasionally but there are fewer butterflies to chase and no rabbits anymore. What I don’t see is young people exploring the parks and woodlands as I once did. Children’s connections to nature have diminished to the point that we even have a term for it -Nature Deficit Disorder.

Encounters with wildlife are becoming rarer.

So… what are we going to do to turn this around?

For a start Creating Natural Connections is going back to the primary schools to deliver a new suite of workshops, which will be linked to the major habitat works creating a connection for children to nature and the habitats in their local area.

We’ll expand our workshops in high schools, delivering employability, soft life skills and be beneficial in helping build resilience in young people to help fight the mental health crisis currently affecting schools.

There will be training and volunteer opportunities through volunteer internships and paid trainee-ships, something that we have been wanting to do for many years. These are opportunities for young people to build confidence and employability skills. We will also expand our Nature Ninja volunteering work to create mid-week and weekend opportunities.

You’ll see us use the word connections a lot. This is the linchpin that this programme is built around, creating natural connections to ensure that people and nature are at the heart of Cumbernauld’s future.

Tracy Lambert