Volunteering in Lockdown

Volunteering in Lockdown

Volunteering in Lockdown

Blog by Lisa Critchley

 

It is Volunteer Week 2020, and what a strange start to the volunteering year it has been! We started off well with our Woodland Workout sessions in January and February but then the storms hit. Volunteer tasks had to be cancelled due to flooding and adverse weather and just as things looked to be calming down, the COVID-19 pandemic crept upon us. The pandemic meant we had to stop all volunteering, head home and baton down the hatches. I think a lot of us only thought it would be for a few weeks, but here we are, a few months later, and only just beginning to rise out of it.

In that time, plenty of conservation volunteer tasks have had to be missed: scrub clearance in the bogs to prevent the encroachment of trees and shrubs, spring surveys of flora and fauna, litter picks to keep our countryside, rivers and Lough clean, planting events in community gardens, wet woodland management and invasive plant species control!

I am Lisa, the Volunteer and Skills Development Officer for Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership (LNLP), and I am sure there are plenty of volunteers missing getting out and about, helping their local environment and plenty more itching to start. There has been little movement on the ground but things are beginning to change as we gradually come out of lockdown. I do hope to get our conservation volunteering up and running again, in some form or other, but in the meantime, there are a number of things you can do to satisfy your desire to get stuck in again!

Whether you are a seasoned volunteer, curious to see what it is all about, wanting a change of scenery, looking to expand your skills and knowledge set or alleviate potential lockdown boredom, have a read through the list below for ideas of how to do your own volunteering in lockdown:

  • When out and about on your daily exercise, you can begin look at the plants and wildlife around you and try to identify them. The OPAL website is a good resource to begin with if you are not familiar with species identification. Make a note of what you see so you continue to learn. This will be a good basis for survey work, which is one of the volunteer acivities LNLP normally offer.
  • Watch the birds and try to identify them by call and sight. This will also be a good basis for if you carry out any bird survey work which LNLP do a lot of. Have a look at a video I made a few weeks ago on how to make your own bird feeder. This will attract more birds to your garden and will help with your species identification. Before making my bird feeder, I had house sparrows and starlings in the garden. They love the bird feeder but I have also since attracted great tits, blue tits, wood pigeon, collared dove (not sure if that was for the feeder but they were there!) and a coal tit visited at the weekend.
  • If you can get hold of a litter picker (you don’t have to have this but it makes it easier and it means you can pick up more stuff), gloves (essential for health and safety reasons!) and strong bin bags, you could do litter picks in your local area. If you do this, please email me and I will give you a bit of guidance and send you a basic form for recording what you collect. I will then feed this into the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful litter recording platform.
  • If you have a garden with grass, you can leave it longer in between cuts as this is beneficial for wildlife: insects prefer long grass and an increase in these will attract more birds to the garden too. You could try to identify what plants come up when the lawn is left alone as well as the insects and birds that visit. On the same lines, if your garden is big enough, you could leave an area of your lawn long for insects and only cut it in the late summer.
  • You could get some wildflower seeds from True Harvest Seeds or Eco Seeds and plant an area of your garden with wildflower seeds. If you don’t have a garden, you can plant these in window boxes or flower pots. The seeds from both of these organisations are native flowers to Ireland which is important for our local wildlife and plant biodiversity. It also means that no non-native species will be introduced to the wider environment. You can then identify the plants as they grow and the insects that visit.
  • Watch the video I made a few weeks ago on planting for pollinators. The plants I use are not necessarily native but they do provide a good food source for pollinators and are readily available in supermarkets, garage shops and now the garden centres are open, you will have more choice.
  • Read about the management of habitats in your area so you can familiarise yourself with the type of practical work that is done. You can also look at the websites and social media of various environmental organisations who have volunteer groups to see the type work they got up to before lockdown. Try: LNLP Facebook, RSPB, National Trust, Woodland Trust websites and Facebooks, Belfast Hills Partnership Facebook, website and their YouTube channel have videos of volunteering activities they do.
  • When volunteers are active for LNLP, we do a variety of seasonal activities. Generally during autumn and winter months we carry out:
    • Bog management by clearing scrub and small trees to prevent scrub encroachment
    • Wet woodland management including removal of non-native plant species such as laurel and snowberry
    • Willow and hazel management through coppicing
  • During spring and summer months we carry out:
    • Litter lifts around the Lough shore, riverbanks leading into and out of the Lough and other sites such as woodlands
    • Surveys – both plant and wildlife
    • Invasive plant species control such as Himalayan balsam

If you end up doing any or all of these activities, I would love to know! Email me or leave us a Facebook message telling us about your adventures. Additionally, if you would like to volunteer for LNLP when it starts back up again, please don’t hesitate to contact me and ask for an interest form. I will add you to the volunteer mailing list so you will be notified the minute we can start up again!

Lough Neagh Conference – Student Blog by Michael McCoy

Lough Neagh Conference – Student Blog by Michael McCoy

Student Blog by Michael McCoy

Hi everyone, Michael here. Today I had the honour of attending the Lough Neagh conference. This meeting focused on the future management of Lough Neagh and how councillors, MLAs and local residents and their businesses can work together. A presentation was given by Dr William Burke, Lough Neagh Partnership (LNP) manager who informed the audience of the current management in place along with what is needed for the future. A representative from each of the main political parties also spoke about their views on legal responsibilities and what the aims are for future policies regarding Lough Neagh.

John Blair, representing the Alliance party, was knowledgeable about many concerns regarding management and referred to his experience in working Inland Fisheries for NIEA. Blair understands that realistic ideas need to be in place to work inside the budget. Tourism was highlighted as it is deemed important to improve public awareness of the Lough. Blair acknowledged the biodiversity rich environment and the unique species that live in and around the Lough. Blair wants to develop government policies with great detail and ensure everything is planned out instead of rushing poorly thought out ideas.

Rosemary Barton spoke on behalf of the Ulster Unionist party (UUP). Barton understood the need for more support from the government and the need for structure. She acknowledges that there is conflict of interest between communities. Barton highlights the need for inter-departmental grouping and only by working together can this task be achieved. Barton praises the good work done by LNP so far.

Dolores Kelly represented the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). She focused on farming and fishing communities, highlighting the issues of flooding on agricultural farmland. Kelly also briefly mentioned Eutrophication and focused on the need for more creative ideas. She highlights the importance of community involvement and the need to be flexible and adaptable. Kelly concluded by pledging the SDLP support to having a proper structure for regulating policies on management for Lough Neagh.

Francie Molloy, who was representing Sinn Fein focused on the need for one department to make the important decisions for future management of Lough Neagh. He highlighted the need for navigation authority on the Lough that the general public and fisheries should follow. Malloy wants to develop tourism across the whole Lough and feels that Lough Neagh needs to reach its full potential. He wants more people fishing on the lough to help generate revenue.

Overall, every politician was emphasising the importance of Lough Neagh and the need for a more structured approach to managing the lough. I personally found the conference interesting and hope that the meeting today will hopefully improve not just the economic and social aspects of the Lough, but also the environmental side, which requires more focus from the government.

Lough Neagh The Way Forward – Student Blog

Lough Neagh The Way Forward – Student Blog

Student Blog by Aine Mallon

Introduction

Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater water lake which has many benefits, all of which bring environmental, social and economic purposes. On 10th March 2020, I got to sit in on a conference here at the Discovery Centre with a range of political parties to discuss the strategic approaches associated with ensuring Lough Neagh is the next government, managed plan. The history of drawing up a management plan for Lough Neagh have been labelled as ‘un-coordinated,’ but now there are new challenges to bring forward more important, organised solutions. A representative from each of the political parties spoke on behalf of their party to share their planning procedures which they have set in place for Lough Neagh.

John Blair MLA, Alliance Party

John Blair had first opened with telling the chairmen a little bit about his background and how he had a combination of involvement in relation to Lough Neagh and having worked with DAERA. He made it very clear that the Alliance party have laid out a three-fold approach to bring forward new changes. Firstly, the policy proposals need to be addressed as principles, this is so that everything would be laid out in detail and there would be no delays in working towards them. Secondly, that the six people who are representing their political parties meet again, and more often to further discuss processes and work that they are carrying out in relation to Lough Neagh. Finally, he wants an action plan drawn up. These are all to be developed in detail because this will then bring forward a collaborative joint up approach.

Rosemary Barton MLA, Ulster Unionist Party

Rosemary had a very clear understanding of the main issue and dilemma that Lough Neagh faces, government funding is what’s needed. There are main difficulties that arise from the issue of there being much difficulty in the management structures for Lough Neagh. There is no government plan set in action and that she raised awareness of Waterways Ireland to manage the Lough. The action plans her party has put forward is that there needs to be more government management and practical efforts to assist in practical involvement however, all political parties must be on board for this to work. Interdepartmental grouping to shape the policy is mandatory. Finally, there needs to be more focus on the security of the area to put a stop to the illegal activities here.

Dolores Kelly MLA, Social Democratic and Labour party

Dolores made it very clear that the issue of strategy for Lough Neagh has been missing. Changes need to be brought in place to bring new improvements to the Lough. What her party have suggested is that all the councils in the areas need to join up and work with each other. Much more can be done together as a bigger team, but this can’t be done without central government funding. Lough Neagh needs to be more advertised as a key tourist destination for the economic benefits of the area. There needs to be a new strategy of how things are done, there needs to be more flexibility and become more adaptable and to also fix the funding issue. As Ulster Unionist Party has already stated, social democratic and labour party also believe that Waterways Ireland need to be involved.

Francie Molloy MP, Sinn Fein

The main issue of Francie’s idea focused more around community ownership of the Lough. The no demands for ownership has led to no one having responsibility. The main approach for Sinn Fein is that there needs to be a lead department minister, and the funding issue which all the other parties have mentioned need to be addressed. Sinn Fein have laid out a list of plans to develop tourism in Lough Neagh for the future. Firstly, there must be an initial step protocol to deal with navigation (for the boats) as it can be very dangerous. All parties have spoken about the importance of waterways Ireland to take control, and for the promotion of Lough Neagh. They want to work towards a long-term sustainability plan of Lough Neagh this including the tourism growth deal. Tourism needs to be more promoted across the area.

Lough Neagh Litter Campaign

Lough Neagh Litter Campaign

Lough Neagh Partnership and the Rivers Trust are delighted to support the local community groups around the shores of Lough Neagh who want to change attitudes to litter.  Around Lough Neagh we can see the damage done to valuable wildlife habitats through our careless attitude to litter.  Plastic bottles, straws and single use coffee cups are blown from roads and lanes into streams and into Lough Neagh where we are contributing to killing of sea birds and sea animals.   Lough Neagh Partnership and the Rivers Trust are throwing our efforts behind the Live Here Love Here Campaign to do our bit.

Because we  Live Here beside the Lough

                           We Love Here and do not want our place looking like a skip!

Please join and like our Lough Neagh Litter Campaign on facebook

Next events coming up: –

Saturday 27 July        Derrytresk Community Centre      12noon

Saturday 3 Aug          Newmills at the MACE shop at 10:30am

Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership Moss Blog – June 25th 2019

Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership Moss Blog – June 25th 2019

Siobhan Thompson, the project lead for Saving Nature in the Area has been working alongside Bryonie and Gemma from Quarto to explore Community Connect with Moss.

Local community members joined us on two walks through the moss, one along the condemned rampart and one on the ramparts behind Derrytresk community centre.

We looked at how the moss has changed and altered over the lifetime of local people, and to get a sense of what is important for you as community and how we could help move this forward.
We had a lot of good discussions with people and have collated insights from those that came along, from local place-names to stories of using special moss shoes and the right way to stack the peat. There were a lot of photos taken and there will be a final workshop on Wednesday the 26th June at Washing Bay Community Centre @ 7.30pm which we hope as many local people will get along to as possible… Children are also welcome to come along and take part…

The curlew have been very active, and our Ornithology team on the ground (which consists of Kendrew Colhoun and Kerry Mackie) have been out monitoring and watching – as well as getting lots of cups of tea, and pieces of cake – they tell me this element is particularly vital and an integral part of the hard work they are doing – and actually it is, as the information they get from you is massively important and helps us shape our project for the current and future benefit of the Curlew and other wildlife.

We are well into the season, the Curlew arrived mid-March and have been busy courting one another, setting up nests, guarding their nests from aerial/ground predators, and trying to get their eggs to the hatching stage.

Hatching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From our monitoring we have observed one pair has managed to get their eggs to hatching point – as they are ground nesting birds many of the eggs in nests are predated by other birds, or by ground predators, and never get to hatch.

We watched with great excitement as the pair we know got the eggs to hatching stage, but sadly we suspect the chicks that hatched have already been predated.

These birds as ground nesting birds have a lot of contend with and we hope that in years to come we can help manage this local landscape with your help for their benefit. Future funding will include how we can create a benefit for the community as you have been integral in shaping this landscape to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosalind Lowry our project artist has been working with Kingisland Primary school, and together with the students and staff, has created and painted the beautiful mural you can see on the gable wall… it shows the wonderful wildlife you have in the area, from Curlew, Cuckoo, Meadow Pipits, to Large heath butterfly and insect eating plants known as sundew which are a wonderful plant found on bogs. If you get the chance pop along to see it, it blends in very well with the colourful school grounds. We have also delivered some workshops to the students on Curlew and local wildlife and have been very impressed by the Curlew calls the kids can make…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will be meeting with Anne Reid the Access and Recreation officer for Mid Ulster Council in the next week – to progress discussion around access and recreation across the site, across ramparts and through the moss – from discussion with many of you we know that this is something that local community would like to see happen – the roads are busy in the area and it’s good to have routes you can take that avoid traffic and lead you through beautiful areas.

We will also be raising the matter of the walk way between Kingsland primary school and Derrytresk community centre – though we have been told this is a matter for the Department of Infrastructure
We are in the final stages of working with the Department of Education over the lease. As with all legal processes it is proving to be one thing that requires patience, and we will keep the community committees informed as to what is happening with this aspect. So please feed any questions with respect to this either directly to me or to your local community committee members and they will pass it on to us.

Upcoming Workshops, and information talks:

  • Wednesday 26 June – Exploring community connection to the moss – for all members of local communities to attend at washing Bay Community Centre at 7.30 – 9.30 pm (approx.)
  • Wednesday 3rd July – Painting the land – Derrytresk Community Centre – 7.30 – 9.00 pm
  • Wednesday 10th July – A Conversation in Clay – Washing Bay Community Centre – 7.30 – 9.00 pm
  • Meet the Ornithologist – Update on the moss Curlew & other birds – Date & Venue TBC
  • Access & recreation – Consultation with Community – Date & Venue TBC

We welcome feedback on the timings of our workshops – we could hold the last two towards end of July but understand a lot of people may be away – please let us know your thoughts, or ideas for info talks/workshops you would like.

One of the discussions we were having on one of the community walks on the moss was how you do make a peat creel… Has anyone any idea of the local design used? Would you in interested in trying to build couple with us?

Any thoughts and comments let us know… Either on Facebook or by sending email to Siobhan.thompson@loughneaghlp.com

Joe Mahon launches new Lough Neagh series on UTV

Joe Mahon launches new Lough Neagh series on UTV

A new series taking UTV presenter Joe Mahon on a unique tour of Lough Neagh has been launched to an invited audience with Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council ahead of its first episode, which will be screened on UTV at 8pm on Monday 17 September.

The eight part series takes Joe onto and around the largest freshwater lake in the UK and Ireland where viewers will see him fishing for eel in the dead of night, canoeing and learning hunting skills on the shores of the lough, digging with archaeologists, visiting the oldest thatched roofed pub in Ireland and learning the traditional craft of boat building.

Joe said of the new series: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring Lough Neagh for this new UTV programme. It was a hugely enjoyable learning experience and the beauty about learning something new is the idea that you can then share it with the viewers. I hope that everyone will not only enjoy the series, but also learn a little bit more about the Lough.”

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Paul Michael, commented: “Lough Neagh is the heart of Northern Ireland and on behalf of all the Councils involved in Lough Neagh Partnership, we thank Joe Mahon, Westway Films and UTV for showcasing the history and heritage of our Lough. We are extremely proud of the connection with the Lough and on Tuesday of this week, we officially cut the sod for the new Lough Neagh Gateway Centre, which is due to open at the end of Summer 2019. In the meantime, we all look forward to welcoming more visitors, that Joe’s new series will attract, to our stunning Lough Neagh.”

Gerry Darby of Lough Neagh Partnership said: “This is the first locally produced television series dedicated to exposing the culture and heritage of Lough Neagh and its surrounds. It has been a pleasure for the team at Lough Neagh Partnership to be able to work hand in hand with Joe on this series to showcase the authenticity of this area. We believe he has really captured the essence of everyday life in the heart of mid Ulster to enthral UTV viewers with this unique insight into the place that we are so proud of.

Terry Brennan, UTV’s Head of News and Programmes said, “In the 20 plus years that Joe has been bringing programmes to our homes, he has enthralled and delighted the viewers with his unique style, outstanding locations, amazing characters, and delightful stories, and with Lough Neagh, that trend will continue. We are absolutely thrilled at UTV that Joe has uncovered yet more amazing stories about Northern Ireland’s rich cultural heritage.”

Lough Neagh, sponsored by Connollys of Moy, starts Monday 17 September at 8pm on UTV.

 

 

Lough Neagh Community Heritage Training

Lough Neagh Community Heritage Training

Are you interested in your place and it’s past?

Would you like to know how to research, record and archive your local history? Lough Neagh Landscape partnership is offering you heritage training and advice.

Venue 1: Lock Keepers Cottage in Toome – Mon 1st Oct, 8th Oct, 15th Oct & 29th Oct

Venue 2: Community Hall Aghagallon – Tuesday 6th Nov, 13th Nov, 20th Nov & 4th Dec

Time 7.30pm – 9.30pm

Training is FREE but places are limited, so book early! Please contact Chris McCarney volunteer officer on 077 8824 9517.

Book on Facebook at: Facebook.com/LoughNeaghLP

Overhead and Underfoot – The Second World War Legacies Around Lough Neagh

Overhead and Underfoot – The Second World War Legacies Around Lough Neagh

OVERHEAD AND UNDERFOOT – THE SECOND WORLD WAR LEGACIES AROUND LOUGH NEAGH

The Second World War was to have a massive impact on the greater Lough Neagh area and this is still very evident in the built and cultural heritage of the area today. In order to explore the cultural legacy of the Second World War on the Lough Neagh area, Lough Neagh Partnership is hosting a free to attend two day conference on 16 and 17 October.

The two day event begins in The Old Courthouse in Antrim on 16 October exploring the role of the Second World War through various talks to inform delegates of the stories associated with those from the Lough area and the service personnel based there. Associated stories of rationing, military aviation, haunted places, evacuees and refugees, soldiers and airmen. Delegates will then be encouraged to participate in lively discussion after each session.

The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Paul Michael commented: “I am delighted that this interesting conference is taking place in our Borough. Antrim and Newtownabbey has a diverse history and I would encourage everyone to attend to learn about the cultural legacy of the Second World War in the Lough Neagh area.”

Liam Campbell, Lough Neagh Partnership, said: “Covering a diverse range of topics the packed agenda on this two day conference will appeal to anyone interested in history and the future of life and living on the Lough.

“We have engaged community historians, archaeologists, authors and leading researchers, who have a very real interest on the impact of the Second World War around Lough Neagh to share their knowledge during what promises to be a great two days.

“This conference seeks to foster relationships among many community groups, institutions, government bodies and practitioners, as well as academics who have an interest in the impact of the Second World War around Lough Neagh.”

On 17 October delegates will be taken on a guided bus tour of the major Second World War sites including Toome, Ardboe/Clontoe, Langford Lodge and will visit the Ulster Aviation Society at Maze Long Kesh.

To attend ‘Overhead and Underfoot’, book your place by contacting Lough Neagh Partnership on tel 028 7941 7941 or by email at info@discoverloughneagh.com as advance booking is essential.

Bookings can also be made at: Overhead and Underfoot Booking

For a full programme, visit: Overhead and Underfoot Programme

Lough Neagh Partnership through its Heritage Lottery funded Landscape Programme is promoting this conference with support from Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council.

www.discoverloughneagh.com, www.twitter.com/loveloughneagh,

www.facebook.com/loughneaghlandscapepartnership.

Overhead and Underfoot: Legacies of World War II around Lough Neagh

Overhead and Underfoot: Legacies of World War II around Lough Neagh

Overhead and Underfoot Conference: 16th -17th October 2018
The Old Courthouse, Market Square, Antrim

 Registration and tea and coffee 9.30am

Welcome – Mayor Councillor Paul Michael, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

10.00am-10.05am

Session one 10.10am-11.30am

SETTING THE HISTORICAL SCENE 

Paul Clark ( Television Presenter ) – The power of the WWII story

Richard Doherty ( Military Historian and author ) – Setting the scene of WWII in the Lough Neagh Area

Alan Freeburn ( Education Officer NI War Memorial ) – Dark Histories around the Lough

Aidan Fee ( Stewartstown and District Local History Society ) – Evacuees around the lough

Questions and comments

 Tea break 11.30am-11.45am

 

Session two 11.45am-1pm

WORKING WITH THE LEGACIES

Jonny Mc Nee ( Aviation Historian ) – Inspiring stories  of  WWII community projects

Ernie Cromie  ( Ulster Aviation Society and author ) – The story of military aviation in NI during WWII

John McCann ( Historian and Author ) Passing Through

Rebecca Milligan ( PhD researcher  QUB  ) – Hauntology and mapping WWII stories

 

Questions and comments

Lunch 1pm-2pm

 

 

Session three 2 pm-3.15 pm

COLLECTING, RECORDING AND DISSEMINATING

 

Dr Jim O Neil ( Historian and Archaeologist ) – Surveying the  built heritage

Ian Henderson ( Consultant  in Tourism and Military Historian ) –  World War II legacy potential

Jenny Hasslett ( Manager NI War Memorial ) – Collecting and recording for communities

Ian Montgomery  ( Public Records Office of Northern Ireland ) – PRONI – A resource

Tea break 3.15pm-3.30pm

Session four 3.30pm-4.30pm

THE WAY FORWARD

How can Lough Neagh communities engage with, protect and publicise their World War II heritage?

  • small groups to discuss ideas
  • bring together to share ideas and make connections

 Closing remarks.

 

Wednesday 17th October: Overhead and Underfoot Bus Tour

Please note there is a limit of 50 spaces on this tour, these will be provided on a first come, first serve basis

 Visiting Toomebridge sites, Clontoe / Ardboe sites and Maze / Ulster Aviation Society

(Lunch provided)

Depart 10 am –  Carpark beside The Old Courthouse, Market Square,  Antrim – return 4.30

Facilitators

Emma Mc Bride (Historic Environment Division, Dept for Communities)

Pat  Grimes (Ardboe Gallery,  Historian and  Author)

 

Booking Link Below:

Overhead and Underfoot