I want to share my last blog with you as a Natural Community Trainee.

As a resident of Cumbernauld I have seen areas become overgrown and been angry that I saw nothing being done to tidy the place up, or make it feel safer… I didn’t have the skills and to be honest I wasn’t looking under the surface, it was too easy to blame others.  The economy at present is pretty bleak with huge cuts to Local Authority spending.  The area that has less impact on us and appears to be the easiest to take the hit is the environment.  As the Community Engagement Officer for the Cumbernauld Living Landscape I have seen first-hand, the difficulties of trying to maintain one of the largest landscaped towns in Europe.  But I have also seen the look of satisfaction on a volunteers face during an event or even when clearing a woodland of rubbish.  If we, as a community don’t improve our surroundings, why should we expect others to do it for us?

Entrance to Stonylee Road before
Entrance to Stonylee Road before, with broken glass a plenty
Entrance to Stonylee Road After a wee bit of volunteer work

Fifteen months ago I began a post with the idea to bring change Cumbernauld, in fact the reverse has happened, Cumbernauld has changed me! So here are my top 5 changes in Cumbernauld:

  1. I went from being an unemployed Ecology graduate volunteering for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, to an employed Natural Communities Trainee with The Conservation Volunteers, ironically working with the Scottish Wildlife Trust in my home town of Cumbernauld.
  2. I have learned that there are an amazing array of community councils, groups and individuals who care deeply about their town and take positive action to improve it year in, year out.  They could always do with more help; why not find out what’s happening near you.
  3. Taking the outdoor indoors works! The Living Window project demonstrated this by displaying artwork inspired by groups revealing the passion they have for their local greenspaces around Cumbernauld. Talk about creative energy!
  4. Inspiring local children through the Natural Connections workshops has raised awareness across generations.  The children of Cumbernauld are switched on and know more than we give them credit for. 
  5. The legacy of the Natural Communities Trainee post has resulted in a successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid to continue Community Engagement within the Cumbernauld Living Landscape for the next two years

Change is happening, we all just need to get out there and give it a warm welcome.  Community groups all around Cumbernauld are effecting this change.  Community Councils and local Tenants and Residents Associations are adding a wonderful splash of colour to our main streets.  Through our events people have been learning about wildlife and the amazing variety of habitats that can be found within an urban setting. Children’s groups and schools are having litter picks, sowing wildflowers and writing to their MSP to effect change! It’s all happening!

Children from Carbrain Primary School's Eco-committee helping me plant two fruit trees

We need to remember though that our environment provides us with clean air and water, places to relax and recharge your batteries, places to play and just look nice in general it helps us feel safe and happy.  Being outside in our environment also helps us stay healthy and gives us a feeling of well-being.  Nothing beats the feeling of the sun warm on your face, the heat seeping into your bones – just remember your sun screen.  The past 15 months has been an amazing whirlwind and I will be sad to leave it, but I know Cumbernauld is in good hands, she just needs more of them.  So while you read on consider this, you are at a computer or on your mobile, disconnected from your environment why not reconnect and enjoy the benefits. 

There is something for everyone out there when is the last time you rolled down a hill or climbed a tree, twirled a buttercup under your chin, help someone just because… or made a daisy chain crown. Don’t let these memories gather dust I’m sure there are more than a few of you out there who could show today’s kids a thing or two.

So you see it isn’t a goodbye, I’ll see you around I have a teepee to build!

Teepee time :)


Cumbernauld LL