From 2010 young people engaged through Catch22’s Middleton office north of Manchester began working on improving the environment at the Rhodes Lodges Nature Reserve. In partnership with the Environment Agency and Absolute Angling the young people initially set about to improve the fishing opportunities at the site.
As the project has developed however not only have they built new fishing pegs and floating islands; they have also improved access paths, increased safety through opening site lines across the site, built signage and improved biodiversity opportunities for local wildlife. Their actions have not only benefited the local fishing community but also residents and visitors that use the site as a place to bring their children to play and to walk their dogs.
The young people involved on the project have made large inroads into improving community cohesion in the area with local residents now seeing them as being a part of the solution to the anti-social behaviour issues that have previously occurred at the site. They have also learnt important practical skills in landscape construction and habitat creation and have been rewarded with lessons in fishing.
Gary Leigh from Community Space Challenge said; “The best part has got to be the great crested grebes rearing their young for the first time in years on the islands that were built by the young people.”
As a result of the success the young people have had at Rhodes Lodges Nature Reserve they have began to expand their work to other fishing and recreation sites in and around Middleton.