30 Days Wild

Lisa Andrews reflects on her relationship with nature during lockdown, and shares how we can all get involved with The Wildlife Trusts’ annual 30 Days Wild campaign. So, if you’re interested in trying your own random act of wildness, read on.

There’s no getting away from it: I’m a townie. I’ve lived and worked in them all my life, some of my favourite holiday memories are city-based and I love nothing more than wandering the streets of London, heading to the theatre and having my pick of restaurants and bars.

Of course, lockdown has made most of this impossible and like lots of people I’ve had to adapt to that horrible buzz phrase everyone is now obliged to use – the new normalTM.

Some days are good, some not so much. But what all this nonsense has done is force me to reconnect with my bike, my tiny patio garden and the parks closest to my house. I also now walk along part of the Thames towpath every morning. In fact, this walk is fast becoming non-negotiable for my overthinking, anxious brain. Balance is another overused word at the moment, but clichés become clichés for a reason…

As anyone who follows me on Instagram will know, all of this has led me to seek out the wildlife on my doorstep: the two-day old cygnets that just hatched in Kingston; the protected area for skylarks in Bushy Park; the deafening sound of woodpeckers (I don’t know which variety because I’ve yet to catch them on camera) in Home Park.

I’m not original in this, of course. Lockdown has forced many of us to explore what’s in front of us, to rely on the small, day-to-day changes that remind us that time does pass, that nature continues to thrive despite a disease that none of us can see and many of us might be carrying without even knowing.

This desire to pay closer attention had started to build before lockdown, having got involved in last year’s 26 Trees project with The Woodland Trust and this year’s 26 Wild project with The Wildlife Trusts. However, there’s no doubt that lockdown has led to the happy remembering that I don’t have to get out into the Surrey Hills (while stunning) or the High Weald to connect with nature.

All of which is why I’ve signed up to The Wildlife Trusts’ annual 30 Days Wild campaign. At time of writing, more than 70,000 people have signed up, making a promise to themselves that they will do one wild thing a day for 30 days throughout June. That number includes an incredible 896 care homes – up from 570 last year and proof of just how a little nature can go a long way at any time of life.

The activities you choose don’t have to be big, either. When you make your pledge, The Wildlife Trusts send you a pack of materials – particularly handy for families – and loads of ideas, such as take a meal outside, or go plastic free for a day, to get you started.

I wanted to find out more about the campaign, so I spoke to the woman in charge, Abbie Hargreaves, to find out why this campaign exists. Here’s what she told me:

“The Wildlife Trusts’ annual 30 Days Wild campaign exists to connect people with the nature on their doorsteps for their own wellbeing, but also so they appreciate and care for it, harnessing this love into action.

“This year more than ever, we want people to stay in contact with the natural world – it’s such a tonic in these bizarre circumstances. We’ve researched the challenge’s impacts over the last five years and found that participants are significantly happier and healthier even months after taking part, which is incredible!”

Like all of us, Abbie and the team have had to make some adaptations in light of lockdown: “We’ve had to make everything digital,” she explains. “We usually provide a free postal pack of goodies like wildflower seeds and stickers, but they unfortunately haven’t been able to go ahead. We’ve adapted our random acts of wildness to make sure everyone can still take part despite the current restrictions on contact and travel, so each activity can be adapted for everyone.”

So, why not join me and 70,000 (and counting) other people and sign up! And, if you do, come and share your random acts of wildness with 26 – we’re on Twitter and Instagram and don’t forget to use the hashtag #30DaysWild.

The digital part of our 26 Wild project kicks off officially on 1 September 2020, but we’ll be sharing all sorts of things across our channels in the run up and have created a dedicated 26 Wild Facebook page – many of our project writers have joined but it is open to anyone who would like to find out more about our project and share in our mutual love of nature and wildlife.

– Lisa Andrews

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