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It was an inauspicious start from the Plunkett Foundation carpark at 6:30am one cold March morning following the twin phenomena of the Beast from the East and Storm Emma. But the sun came out on our trip up the M1 and by the time we reached Bradford it was shaping up for a lovely (if bracing) day. We were on a mission to catch up with our three Bradford (or thereabouts) –based groups; Athelas, Forest of Bradford (FOB-CIC) and Inspiring Neighbourhoods.

First-stop, a meeting with Athelas CIC, to learn more about their recent activities. A close-knit community interest company made up of five core members with access to a woodland in Wakefield. They run a range of events from the space including wellbeing sessions, bushcraft and tree-planting. They have been established since 2016 and have worked with the project, supported by Mark Simmonds, to formalise their structures and become incorporated.

After a quick lunch we hot-footed it over to a patch of woodland on the outskirts of the city now managed by the FOB-CIC team. They have established a fantastic wood fuel processing arrangement thanks, in part, to their regular volunteer days. They are generating more woodfuel for sale and managing more and more sites in the area. We were also taken to a stunning second woodland site complete with a sparkling stream and delightful birdsong. To learn more about what FOB-CIC are up to or to join their growing army of volunteers you can check out their brand new website here.

After a night in Bradford, and a trip to one of the famous curry houses, we met with our final group, Inspired Neighbourhoods, who lived up to their name. Another trip to the woods beckoned with an invigorating walk taking in fabulous sights and learning a lot about local heritage at the same time. After a quick bite to eat we were soon back on our way South with a greater understanding of our partner organisations and memories of Bradford to sustain us. Thank you to all of our hosts for welcoming us and sharing your stories.

We’ll be putting on another MLWW networking session in the North of England soon and hope to include some site visits. If you’re a MLWW participant group with a desire to learn more about these groups but not based in the North consider our study visit programme and you could come and see these wonderful organisations for yourself.

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