Refugees fleeing violence, war and oppression took part in conservation work on Nether Timble Farm in Nidderdale AONB this month.
All those taking part are fleeing their home countries and in the process of applying for refugee status. In their own countries these asylum seekers are skilled workers, such as software programmers, digger drivers, electricians and farmers.
The refugees have no right to work in the UK, while applying for asylum. Volunteering as part of a conservation project offered an opportunity to get both exercise and regain a sense of purpose.
Abdul Aziz, Hysni Latif, Ali Reza, Imran and Salih from Syria, Iran, Turkey and Sudan took part in coppicing work at the farm with Josh and Rowan from Leeds Coppice Workers.
Coppicing is a traditional and sustainable method of woodland rejuvenation that is both productive and good for nature. The group worked hard creating a number of coppice products, including stakes and weaving rods for hedge-laying and bean poles for the garden.
The scheme is part of Nidderdale AONB’s Farming in Protected Landscapes funded project.
Matt Trevelyan, Farming in Protected Landscapes Officer at Nidderdale AONB, said: “Being outdoors is proven to boost mental and physical well-being, and the group really appreciated the day out in the AONB, which despite being a rather grey day in November saw the sun peek out from behind the clouds – the landscape looked its moody best!”
It is the first of six outings planned to take place throughout the next year. Future visits will offer opportunities to take part in hedge-laying, dry-stone walling, as well as visits to working farms.
Matt added: “Thanks go to Sophie and Ben, the landowners at Nether Timble farm, who warmly welcomed the group to their beautiful home. Sophie got stuck into the coppicing too on her day off from being a midwife in Leeds.
“Also, a huge thanks to Mary and Rose from the Leeds City of Sanctuary charity, who helped organise the day, to the team at the Leeds Coppice Workers Cooperative and to Rowan, who carved delicate flowers from the hazel stems, which served as mementos of the day. Thanks also go to Karen, who volunteered to drive the Nidderdale Plus Minibus, and also got stuck in clearing brash, and to Julie from the Nidderdale Way Cafe, for amazing hot food delivered to the site.”