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Extended summer sun gives volunteers at Hampstead Heath a helping hand

PUBLISHED: 13:08 14 September 2018

Heath Hands volunteers on Kite Hill. Picture: Elizabeth Hingley

Heath Hands volunteers on Kite Hill. Picture: Elizabeth Hingley

Archant

The summer heatwave was a boon for Hampstead Heath charity Heath Hands.

Heath Hands volunteers check a snake refuge. Picture: Heath HandsHeath Hands volunteers check a snake refuge. Picture: Heath Hands

The local group’s Community Heath Festival and volunteering projects have reached more people than ever before.

Whether it be through helping to count grass snakes on the Heath, or the groundbreaking Community Heath Festival which took place in early July, Heath Hands have had a busy summer, and volunteers have flocked to the Heath.

Project assistant Karin Oleinikova told Ham&High’s Heathwatch: “I think people really value their time spent volunteering – for many their lives are otherwise urban. Volunteers really love being able to spend time with us and keep that connection to nature.

“We’ve had a really successful year – we’ve engaged with more than a thousand people during our projects. It’s something we are very happy with.

A bee hunt led by Heath Hands volunteers. Picture: Joanne MaddoxA bee hunt led by Heath Hands volunteers. Picture: Joanne Maddox

“One of the biggest successes this year was July’s festival, while we’ve been working with groups like Camden Carers – it’s been really busy.” The Heath Hands community festival took place at the beginning of July and saw local people head to the Heath for a day of arts, music and community togetherness.

Karin added: “People enjoy the companionship and keeping active.”

Meanwhile, one of the more whimsical projects Heath Hands have been involved in has been part of its conservation efforts.

Karin said: “We have done a project recently with the zoo, ZSL. With our volunteers we have been monitoring hedgehogs as part of keeping track of our wildlife. We have cameras set up, and we were even quite surprised to see a badger activate one of them.”

Heath Hands volunteers on Kite Hill. Picture: Elizabeth HingleyHeath Hands volunteers on Kite Hill. Picture: Elizabeth Hingley

The wildlife monitoring also involves keeping an eye on some of the less popular Heath residents – the bees and the snakes.

Volunteers have been taking turns to ‘hunt’ bees in order to monitor their numbers on the Heath, while working with ZSL, Heath Hands have been able to set up snake refuges in order to look after our grass snake population.

Heath Hands aims to offer programmes to allow as wider range as possible of people to enjoy volunteering on the Heath.

Do you have a story for Heathwatch? Email Sam.Volpe@archant.co.uk

Heath Hands volunteers check a snake refuge. Picture: Heath HandsHeath Hands volunteers check a snake refuge. Picture: Heath Hands

The wildlife monitoring also involves keeping an eye on some of the less popular Heath residents – the bees and the snakes.

Volunteers have been taking turns to “hunt” bees in order to monitor their numbers on the Heath, while working with ZSL, Heath Hands have been able to set up snake refuges in order to look after our grass snake population.

Heath Hands aims to offer programmes to allow as wider range as possible of people to enjoy volunteering on Hampstead Heath.

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