On behalf of my client, EQ Consultancy were the proud receiver of the Community Engagement and Overall Winner awards at the 2017 BIG Biodiversity Awards evening. It all started off a couple of years ago when wanting to spark some interest amongst the diverse groups of people who are involved in our projects. We wanted to find a way to get them connected to the environment and to sustainability issues. It was then when I came across CIRIA’s BIG Biodiversity Challenge initiative. It instantly struck me as something that was incredibly “do-able” on all projects, no matter how big or small, where they were located or what type of project they were. The idea is so simple and catchy but also is capable of having significant and lasting impacts both in the communities in which we work and on our workforce.
The opportunity to introduce the initiative came shortly afterwards at the Redhill redevelopment project, an urban job involving some regeneration within the town centre. Several initiatives actually ended up being introduced because when the first one took hold, it was easy to see both the enthusiasm in the teams involved and the multiple benefits offered. We ended up reaching out to several schools of all ages in the area, got involved with a national nature group and tried to replicate what we did in the communities at a site level. Once we started doing things it was easy to see how different people related via different interests; after all many of our common hobbies involve the environment. So we had interest from a gardening, wildlife, photography, running and hiking perspective. The other thing that stood out was how much enjoyment teams who got involved had, whether it was reward from a day of hard graft creating allotments for children to explore planting, growing and eating herbs and veg, or watching children run about with glee; or experiencing the wonder of how magnificent and important bees are (and not in the least bit scary !) through their eyes.
So at the end of my foray into the BIG Biodiversity Challenge world, what can I say other than just get out there and support biodiversity - the awards are immense! You will experience fun, a sense of achievement and wellbeing, team building and probably a bit of dirt and rain but all the best things in life involve getting a bit dirty - don’t they?!