On Wednesday 1 July Barking and Dagenham Council launched its first ?Wild & Free in LBBD' photography competition which runs for two months (July and August). Taking inspiration from The Wildlife Trusts '30 Days Wild' and the National Trust '50 things to do before you're 11 and three quarters' the competition aims at encouraging greater engagement between young people and the natural world.
The project received full support from Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for community engagement and leadership and was initially designed and proposed by Councillor Andrew Achilleos in 2019. Over the last year the Cabinet Member worked closely with the Park Rangers to develop a whole programme of events such as bush craft, pond dipping, bat walks, bird watching etc. However, due to the current national crisis the events have been put on hold.
The photography competition aspect of the project is still taking place and calls on residents to:
"Show us your wild side by getting outside to explore the wildlife on your doorstep this Summer. We want to see how you connect with nature in Barking and Dagenham, so we're running a competition throughout July and August for you to share your wildlife experiences with us using the hashtag #WildFreeLBBD"
Share your photos on Twitter with the #WildFreeLBBD hashtag and don't forget to copy in @BDParkRangers ? or you can email what you have been up to including your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon Cruddas MP commented: "this competition is a really positive incentive to get families and young people out into the country parks across Barking and Dagenham. Over the last few months, we have seen what an asset our open spaces are ? helping us to maintain good mental and physical health throughout lockdown. I commend the work of the Council and Park Rangers in delivering this competition. Good luck to all those that take part on social media!"
Councillor Andrew Achilleos, Member Champion for Climate Change said: "It is such a proud moment to see a project like this come to life. The Wild and Free initiative is being led by our fantastic Park Rangers and I hope it will help young people in the borough develop a greater understanding and appreciation of our local environment. The events are postponed but there's no reason families can't get out there and explore on their own. Our country parks are home to an incredibly diverse array of wildlife and I can't wait to see what our young residents go out and find over the summer months."
Full details of the competition can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-free-in-lbbd-competition-tickets-98867949699