CHILDREN across Tynedale are reaping the benefits of new equipment for playing and making meals outdoors, thanks to a partnership between housing association Karbon Homes and local contractor Charleton Fencing.

Young and Sweet Youth Project, Haltwhistle, and Stomping Grounds Forest School, Prudhoe, have both received a donation of high-quality equipment from the joinery contractor, including wooden, mud kitchens, benches and seating, bird boxes and wooden go karts.

It comes as a result of Karbon Homes’ Unlocking Social Value programme, which matches the social value commitments of its contractors and suppliers with organisations across the region.

Sophie Watkinson is the director of Stomping Grounds Forest School. She said: “We’re so grateful to Charleton Fencing and Karbon Homes for the amazing kit that’s been donated to our organisation.

“We now have seats to support people with mobility issues to join in around the fire circle, bird boxes to make with young people to encourage wildlife to their gardens, an amazing go kart which has been a huge hit with the children, storage boxes and saw horses to help our groups develop skills using tools, and a table and bench which young people love to host outdoor dinner parties around. They even went the extra mile and donated hammers, nails and other tools too.

“We are committed to supporting as many people as possible to experience outdoor adventure and develop woodcraft skills and supporting us in this way, has helped us to make our sessions more accessible and keep everyone comfortable whilst we are out in the woods.”

Stomping Grounds is a social enterprise working to give children and families from all backgrounds the time and space to connect with nature, build relationships with the land and grow communities. All profits generated from paid sessions subsidise community projects which engage young people who may not otherwise be able to enjoy the benefits of forest school.

Karbon Homes' community connector for the area Denise Singleton added: “Getting outside has so many benefits for young people. As well as keeping them active, it has been proven to boost wellbeing and have a positive impact on behaviour.

“We’re really grateful to Charleton Fencing for its social value commitment, which has helped four organisations in the region to improve their outdoor areas and boost their outdoor learning delivery with the donation of forest school equipment.

“We’re proud to work with suppliers and contractors who share our passion for supporting the communities in which they operate.

"For Charleton, it was an opportunity to put the skills they have in the business to great use which has made a huge difference to these organisations.”

For Stomping Ground, this donation is the continuation of a strong partnership with Karbon Homes. Through the housing association’s Supporting Residents Fund, the organisation secured a grant of £9,590 to deliver sessions for young Karbon residents and their families.

Within the sessions, participants prepare, cook and share a campfire meal each week, supporting healthy eating habits and developing food preparation skills, and they take part in games and activities including whittling, woodwork, tree planting, fire lighting, foraging and woodland management. There is also an opportunity for free play, relaxation and meditation in hammocks and to take part in nature walks.