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intu Merry Hill and The Conservation Volunteers Launch Black Country’s First Green Gym

FB saltwells 59intu Merry Hill and The Conservation Volunteers invited The Mayor and Mayoress of Dudley and Dudley Council to the launch of the Black Country’s first “Green Gym” at Saltwells Nature Reserve, Dudley.

The launch took place on Monday 11 April on the site at Quarry Bank. Green Gyms are a nationwide scheme run by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) which encourages people to improve both their health and the environment while working on projects that benefit their community.

intu Merry Hill own a sloping woodland area of Saltwells, complete with woodland, streams and ponds. The Saltwells Green Gym project is funded by intu and staff from intu Merry Hill will take part in regular supervised “Employee Action Days” conservation work at the site as part of the Green Gym scheme, along with the local community and TCV. Work will include clearing vegetation, litter picking and general improvements to the reserve.

Saltwells Nature Reserve was designated in 1981. It is one of the UK’s largest urban nature reserves, covering 247 acres. Formerly mined for iron ore, coal and clay from the thirteenth century until the 1960s, in 1992 it became the UK’s first reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Project, one of only 15 in the UK to be awarded the title.

Lizbeth Taylor, general manager at intu Merry Hill, said; “As part of intu’s commitment to restore and enhance green spaces close to shopping centres across the UK, we’re very proud that Saltwells will be the site of the first Green Gym on land owned by intu. Dedicated staff from intu Merry Hill will be working in partnership with TCV and the local community to restore the area into a beautiful green space that everyone can enjoy. Saltwells is an oasis of peace and calm with a long and fascinating history and we’re urging local people to join us for some exercise in the fresh air that will bring long lasting improvements to the nature reserve.”

Chris Blythe, operations leader at TCV Birmingham and West Midlands, said; “Improving the health and wellbeing of the community is right at the heart of what TCV does. Volunteering at a project like Saltwells is a great way to bring people together for fresh air and exercise and to learn about their local environment while helping to improve it.

“We aim to encourage and develop community team working, friendships and confidence building and at the same time boost practical skills and knowledge while having fun, in an effort to create healthy, happy communities for everyone. The result can be better physical and mental health and the feeling that you’ve done something positive, beneficial and long-lasting for your own backyard and the local community.”  

The Mayor of Dudley, Cllr Steve Waltho, said, “The beauty of Saltwells Nature Reserve has been a well-kept secret for so many local people for many years. From its crucial part in the Black Country’s role at the centre of the Industrial Revolution it is now one of the largest urban nature reserves in the country, with birdsong, trees, rare orchids, bluebells, newts and dragonfly.”

Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South said, “Health and wellbeing is central to a thriving and balanced community. With the help of intu Merry Hill, TCV, Dudley Council and most importantly the community, this part of the Saltwells Nature Reserve will be restored to a place of magic for everyone to enjoy for years to come.”

Anyone wishing to get involved in the intu Merry Hill Green Gyms project at Saltwells should contact Chris Blythe of TCV on T: 0121 771 4339 or M: 07795 354074

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 15:50

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