Cornwall Wildlife Trust has launched a new project to improve local people’s access to the marine environment in Mount’s Bay, after receiving almost £250,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Over 1,000 children and young people will have the opportunity to gain new skills, improve their wellbeing and learn about Cornwall’s coast and marine life as part of the project. This includes children and young people who live in some of the most deprived areas in the country, such as the Treneere estate in Penzance, and groups who have additional challenges such as disabilities.

The child poverty rate in Penzance (the largest town in Mount’s Bay) is 41% - 16% higher than the national average according to the Campaign to End Child Poverty. This poses a significant barrier for children and families wanting to engage with nature according to Abby Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer and Manager of the new Cornwall Wildlife Trust project:

“We are thrilled to have landed this funding for Mount’s Bay from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We’re looking forward to working in collaboration with local groups and schools to empower them to take action to tackle the nature and climate crises. Poverty in places like Treneere and in other parts of Cornwall is sadly deeply ingrained, and for some local families spending quality time outdoors and going to the beach is a distant dream.

“People of all ages and abilities in Mount’s Bay will now have an increased understanding of Cornwall’s coastline and be in a better position to protect it.”

We’re looking forward to working in collaboration with local groups and schools to empower them to take action to tackle the nature and climate crises.

To reach some of the area’s most disadvantaged children, Cornwall Wildlife Trust will work alongside Penzance-based charity Trelya as well as local education providers including Mounts Bay Academy and Penwith Academy. Over the next two years, the Trust will run hundreds of snorkelling sessions, rocky shore surveys and sea watches for pupils and young people to take part in.

The project will also increase the impact of Cornwall’s Your Shore Network. The network of 17 community-led marine conservation groups, which includes Mount’s Bay Marine Group and is coordinated by Cornwall Wildlife Trust, will receive training on marine recording and seagrass protection and will come together to create a ‘Cornwall Charter of the Seas’.

Lucy Luck, a young volunteer for Mount’s Bay Marine Group and Marine Apprentice at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: “The waters around Mount’s Bay are home to some incredible marine species and habitats, from underwater seagrass beds to beautiful compass jellyfish and the protected giant goby.

“Being a small group of volunteers who care deeply about Mount’s Bay and marine conservation in Cornwall, we are beyond excited to be involved in the project. Being involved with Mount’s Bay Marine Group over the past two years has been life-changing and it’s great that other young people like myself will have the chance to experience Mount’s Bay’s amazing marine life for themselves.”

Stuart McLeod, Director, London and South for the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to support Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s new project in Mount’s Bay, which will positively impact over 1,000 children and young people through opportunities to learn new skills and undertake training.

“Thanks to almost £250,000 raised by National Lottery players, children and families living in Penzance, one of the most under-served areas in the country, will experience the wellbeing benefits of engaging with nature through activities such as sea watches, shore surveys and snorkelling sessions.”

Cornwall Wildlife Trust hopes the pilot project in Mount’s Bay will inform a larger, Cornwall-wide programme of youth and community work. With further funding, the charity aims to partner with more community-based organisations to target other areas of deprivation in Cornwall, in towns such as St Austell, Camborne and Redruth.