Plymouth youngsters are being encouraged to feel the sand of the beach between their toes for the first time, thanks to a £4,000 grant from Tesco.
The money has been awarded to the Marine Biological Association, whose members were inspired to bid for the funds after discovering that some Plymouth children have never been to the beach despite living so close to the coast.
The association is using the money from Tesco to run a Beach Ranger project, training nine young people and supporting them into employment through volunteering roles and paid employment.
The young people will then help to connect Plymouth families to the marine environment, encouraging some youngsters to visit the beach for the very first time through a programme of fun, social and educational marine and conservation-themed events.
The funding comes from Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme, run in collaboration with the charity Groundwork, with the project selected to receive the top grant in the local funding round by Tesco customers.
“Many of Plymouth’s neighbourhoods are close to an amazing coastline and the waters of Plymouth Sound, so for many families the ocean is a large part of their family heritage,” said Jon Parr, who heads up the Education and Outreach programme.
“Sadly, despite this close connection, local families are sometimes unaware of the fantastic shore sites they can visit, or may lack the confidence to feel that they can visit the shore safely.
“In previous outreach events on the city's shores, it was not uncommon for our education team to encounter children who’d never been to the beach.
“Situated at three locations within walking distance of many neighbourhoods around Plymouth, the Beach Ranger team helps communities discover and reconnect with their local ‘blue spaces’ through weekly summer activities such as beach cleans, marine-themed arts and crafts, rock-pooling and snorkel taster sessions.”
The Marine Biological Association is one of three community organisations and charities in Plymouth to benefit from a special round of Bags of Help voting for coastal projects. The others are 2171 (West Plymouth) Squadron Royal Air Force Air Cadets (£2,000) and Keep Playing (£1,000).
Bags of Help sees funding awarded to thousands of local community projects every year, and has now provided more than £80million in grants to more than 27,000 community projects across the UK.
Rhodri Evans, Tesco’s Communications Manager for the South West, said: “We are very proud of the impact Bags of Help has had in communities across Britain and we wanted to run a special round of voting to support projects in our coastal communities.
“Many people will be surprised there are children in Plymouth who have never enjoyed a day at the beach, and we are delighted to be able to fund this great project so that young people can enjoy a visit to the beach, which is such an important part of any childhood.”
Customers cast their Bags of Help votes for various good causes by using blue tokens handed out at checkout points in their local store.
Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, said: “Bags of Help continues to enable local communities up and down Britain to improve their local spaces and the places that matter to them. We’re pleased to be able to be a part of the journey and provide support and encouragement to groups enjoying, protecting and improving Britain’s coastlines.”
Further information is available at www.tesco.com/bagsofhelp