Dear Friends,

I am conscious that many of our Friends Groups will be unsure what to do about their events and activities over the coming months. On the one hand we want everyone to stay safe and on the other we know the value of our Friends groups and the important part they have to play in our community.

The key thing about all our activities is to follow the latest government health advice and guidance on social distancing; the latest advice can be found by searching Public Health England on Medway Council’s web site and through the NHS.

Some of our Friends groups have made decisions to cancel events and tasks, for example the Friends of the Vines have postponed their AGM until the crisis is over. This decision was made on the grounds that many of the members are elderly and vulnerable and the meeting place was fairly small and confined.

Each of you needs to make decisions on the best Government advice and your own judgement regarding your members.

If you need any help in making decisions then please contact us.

We need to be aware that what we do as Friends groups doesn’t just make our greenspaces better for our communities. Fresh air and exercise are also important for our mental wellbeing and our physical health. There are also the vulnerable members of our friends groups; we need to make sure they don’t feel left out and are kept safe.

What we can do is treat this difficult time as an opportunity to do things differently. So long as we stick to the advice given to us by the health professionals we can still work together as Friends groups.

It is important to talk …. Social Distancing should not mean Social Isolation. Give your Friends a call and talk about your greenspaces, share ideas of what you would like to do so that when things improve you can all hit the ground running!!

There are things we can be doing such as;

ID days – go for a walk round your greenspace and make some notes and observations, record the species you know and make a note and take a photo of the ones you don’t. When you get home share this with your Friends group, post it on the MUGs Website and see if anyone can help identify things and always keep a record of what you have found. If you can’t get out you can still practice your ID in your garden!

Wildlife Gardening – if you can’t get out to your greenspace try some wildlife gardening at home. There is plenty of advice and guidance on line, especially from the Kent Wildlife Trust. Again you can share what you are doing with your Friends group and on the MUGs Website.

Taking “shared” walks – head out to your greenspace at the same time as a friend then text and wave to each other!

Building Boxes – for birds, bats, bees and beetles. There is plenty of advice on how you can do this on line, again Kent Wildlife Trust are great for this as are the RSPB. You can give away what you make to friends and family or put them out on your greenspace.

Campaigning for a better world – start writing letters and emails to your politicians!!

Again share what you are doing with friends and family. Currently, there is information on our website about a plastic free Medway and Stop the Herbicides campaign.

Maybe you have some good ideas you can share!

This is a troubling time for us all so keep well and stay safe.

Chair of the Medway Urban Greenspaces Forum