‘Preserving’ the Heath - 10-year-old warned by City of London Corporation over fundraising jam sale
- Credit: Archant
Hampstead Heath managers reprimanded a 10-year-old schoolgirl for picking berries to fundraise for one of its play areas.
Olivia White, who lives next to the Hampstead Heath Extension, raised almost £1,000 by selling £6 Wildwooders’ homemade blackberry jam in recycled jars.
But she received an email from the City of London Corporation (CoLC) saying: “While we are sure your jam is very delicious, there are a few issues with foraging that we need you to be aware of.
“Foraging berries can be damaging to biodiversity – wild animals and birds rely on the berries as a source of food.
“It is also in breach of our byelaws which say you should not forage anything from the Heath.
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“While we are relaxed about people picking a small amount of berries we would not want to encourage anything more. We are very grateful that you want to help us improve and conserve the Heath - it is inspiring that at a young age you are already thinking about helping others.”
The St Christopher’s schoolgirl said: “I don’t want to pick a fight, but I’m going to keep going. The campaign’s called Pick For Parks because I pick the berries then give the money back to the parks.
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“I want to inspire other kids to give their playgrounds a makeover.”
A spokesperson for the CoLC initially told the Ham&High it had “made contact with her to discuss opportunities about how she can get involved”.
Olivia’s mother, Elizabeth Deheza, said: “To the media they’re saying one thing, but another to Olivia. She burst into tears when she opened the email.
“The park is the only place still safe to run around, where children can be free.”
Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, said he is “disappointed” with the CoLC’s “heavy-handed” response.
He said: “What message are we sending to future generations if we discourage them from participating in community action projects by being overzealous in the application of red tape?”
A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said: “We regularly inspect our playgrounds and we also recognise the role the Heath plays as a resource for natural play, inspiring creativity.
“We thank Olivia for her excellent work in promoting play on the Heath.”
The spokesman said the authority has contacted Olivia to apologise for any upset caused by its email.
Find out more about Olivia’s campaign and donate at https://www.wildwooders.uk/