Share your stories about being a wild child – and inspire others

Sally and Jenny Hardwick in a photograph from the 1960s. SWT
Sally and Jenny Hardwick in a photograph from the 1960s. SWT

This week Suffolk Wildlife Trust has launched a new campaign called Growing Up Wild and we are asking for everyone to get involved.

With backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund the Trust is trying to create a unique memory bank of people’s childhood experiences of nature that can then be used to inspire families to spend more time in the county’s wild spaces. In all, The Trust is aiming to collect at least 100 people’s stories of Suffolk’s summers and winters-gone-by, which will then be uploaded and shared on our website.

While changes in the physical landscape, or declines in species, have been well documented, the oral history of people’s lived experiences of wildlife and wild places remains largely anecdotal.

But we know from our experience with volunteers, staff and close work with the communities of Suffolk that there is a wealth of untapped stories in our region; whether it is swimming lessons in rivers, climbing trees or just running wild until tea time. We believe these tales and images will clearly demonstrate how children in our county have always grown up with a largely outdoor life.

The campaign will also paint a vivid picture of the lost Suffolk that the Trust is striving to restore; a Living Landscape of flower-rich meadows, furzy commons and expansive wetlands. We hope the memories captured during Growing Up Wild will allow people to see how the Suffolk countryside used to be and illustrate the changes that have taken place since World War II. Hopefully not only will this inspire people to get outside, but it will encourage them to take action for wildlife where they live.

The timing of the campaign, which will see stories being shared on BBC Suffolk and on the Trust’s reserves is also important. Recent research has suggested that the last 40 years has seen children become increasingly separated from nature.

A national YouGov poll, commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts in 2015, revealed that 57% of parents thought their children spend less time outdoors than they did, while 37% of children had reportedly not played outside by themselves in the past six months. One in three children were said 
to have never climbed a tree.

We know contact with nature is good for children, it makes them happier, healthier and more creative. Growing Up Wild is designed to present a wild childhood in a new way to increase young people’s contact with the natural world and we would love for you to help!

You can share your stories at www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/growingupwild or email info@suffolkwildlifetrust.org