A COOL half a million pounds could help people get closer to nature across the Rotherham district.
Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Rotherham Borough Council and other community organisations, has been awarded £514,000 by the Big Lottery Fund.
Four areas across Rotherham will be improved and become the focus of special events to encourage folk to get greener.
The chosen sites are Sandhill Park in Rawmarsh, Winterhills in Kimberworth, Boston Park near Canklow (pictured), and Eldon Road Recreation Ground near Eastwood.
Over the next five years, the Natural Neighbours project aims to bring people together through regular family activities at the green spaces.
The four areas will be improved through small-scale capital works which will make them more welcoming with better access routes and improved safety.
Activities will include workshops for youth and community groups on how to keep safe in open spaces, activities supporting child development and parenting, art installations and photography exhibitions, regular nature walks, talks, courses and volunteering opportunities.
The project officially starts at the beginning of next month, when new staff will be recruited to work on it.
Linda Baldwin, community engagement and learning manager for the wildlife trust, said the grant would help people “shape and care for their green spaces, making them focal points for the community”.
She added: “People will be able to learn about the different habitats, how beneficial they are to the area and how together we can improve them and care for them in the future.
“We’re looking forward to working together with local communities and organisations to make these spaces more attractive so that everyone can enjoy what they offer and be inspired by nature.”
Cllr Taiba Yasseen, Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhood working and cultural services, said the cash boost for the project was “wonderful news”.
She said: “It comes at a time when the council is keen to explore innovative approaches to green space management.
“The wildlife trust are able to bring considerable experience of community engagement to connect people with nature, and the council is delighted to be working in partnership with them on this exciting project.”