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International volunteers create new woodland

Volunteers from many different countries and backgrounds recently came together to help local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) plant 700 young saplings to create a new area of woodland near Settle.

Staff from global service provider Serco’s COMPASS Contract, involved in the provision of housing and transport for asylum seekers in Lancashire, left their office in Warrington for a day to help plant native species including oak, holly, hawthorn, bird cherry and crab apple.

Lea Petrie, Transport team leader at Serco, said: “It’s been nice to visit the Yorkshire Dales and meet people from different backgrounds. I’ve learnt about the different types of trees that we’ve been planting.”

They were joined by refugees from Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria who are currently service users of the Darwen Asylum Seekers and Refugee Enterprise (DARE) which provides free English lessons and advice on finding employment, as well as working with YDMT to offer uplifting days out such as this in the Yorkshire Dales.

More than 500 people have benefited from this long standing partnership between DARE and YDMT so far, including Habib Muhamed from Somalia. He said: “I am happy to be out today – normally I am always inside at home. It is good to be doing something. I am so happy to be helping the environment by planting the trees.”

DARE co-founder John East recently received a YDMT Champion Award and a cheque for £1000 in recognition of his work, as part of YDMT’s 20th anniversary celebrations in 2017 which saw the charity give 20 awards to recognise the important contribution of some of the groups, organisations and individuals whose work helps to sustain and celebrate the Yorkshire Dales.

Judy Rogers, community worker at YDMT, nominated John for the award. She said: “John was one of the first people I worked with to bring a group to the Dales through our education and outreach programme. He has continued to be involved ever since, initially as part of his job, and then on a voluntary basis. My work depends on the dedication and commitment of people like John – individuals within the community who organise, mobilise and accompany people out into the Dales. He’s a truly inspirational person.”

John said: “Over the last 10 years many hundreds of clients have visited the Dales from Blackburn with Darwen Asylum and Refugee Community – especially those victims of torture, civil war, abuse, imprisonment and intolerance. Many have benefited from these visits and I can only thank the many local residents and partners for giving them the opportunity to demonstrate freedom of mind and spirit, but above all to experience the beauty and tranquillity the Dales can offer. I feel honoured and privileged to be given this award and overwhelmed that you saw fit to nominate me.”

John says that the award will help to support future clients, to relieve their suffering and provide support at a local level. He hopes that many more people will visit the Dales to “experience the wonders of Dalesmanship Fellowship”.

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