£74k grant for ECO Centre families in Skegness

Families celebrating the great news at Forest Tots toddler group at the ECO centre. ANL-180911-092003001
Families celebrating the great news at Forest Tots toddler group at the ECO centre. ANL-180911-092003001

A woodland centre in Skegness that focuses on helping people connect with nature, and each other, has been awarded a £74,000 grant.

ECO Centre, a small non-profit organisation in a 14-acre woodland off Richmond Drive, has been awarded the cash from the Big Lottery Fund to support its early years and family work.

My two boys love it. At the end of every session their hands are dirty and their eyes are sparkling - just how little boys should be

Mum Debbie Willoughby

The project can now reach out across our East Lindsey community for a further two years - providing quality play time and the chance to make new friends.

Tracy Sherwood, Flourishing Families Coordinator, said: “Since we began the family project three years ago, we have reached several thousand local people, and are excited for the next two years of fun, friendship and family time.

“It’s been a worrying couple of months with families besides themselves waiting to hear.

“But they are over the moon now.”

Among the groups welcoming the news is the Forest Tots toddler group. Mum Kay Ellis said she was extremely grateful to Tracy for introducing her two children Sienna and Jenson Banks to new outdoors activities,

“Every week we learn new stuff. We go on nature walks, learn how to build dens, go pond dipping and learn new crafts.

“As an older mum in my 40s most of my friends’ kids are grown up, so it’s also a great way to make new friends.”

Debbie Willoughby also has two young children to entertain - Ben and Sam. “There is nothing else in the area like it. It is a safe and welcoming outdoor environment where we have made many friends.

“My two boys love it. At the end of every session their hands are dirty and their eyes are sparkling - just how little boys should be.”

This group meets every Thursday, 10.30am-12noon, and new families are welcome to join nature craft clubs, baby play, and toddler gardening sessions. Fun family events happen every week, especially for families with children aged 0-5.

Recently the ECO Centre expanded its EcoWellness Project with a number of activities, including therapeutic creative sessions with its new artist in residence Steve Gould.

Steve said: “Its been proven holistically and medically that spending time outdoors benefits your mental and physical health, so the opportunity of bringing art into the environment will help increase people’s feeling of wellbeing and self-worth through this exciting and innovative range of activities as part of the EcoWellness Project at the Eco Centre in Skegness.”

Paul Charles, managing director of the ECO Centre, said: “We are really excited about what we have to offer, and look forward to reaching out to members of the community we may be able to help.

“When we received funding for this, the figure we said we would like to help was 70, but already we have more than 30 signing up for projects.”

To find out more about this and our other family groups and activities, call Tracy on 07544177737.