RSPCA education projects to inspire young people after Covid-19 lockdown

The RSPCA's animal welfare education project in Birmingham is due to restart its outreach work as children and young people across the country return to school.

The programmes help to inspire the next generation of animal lovers by working with children and young people in the local community and teaching them about animal welfare and the environment.

The team, based at RSPCA Newbrook Animal Centre in Frankley Green, have reached more than 6,000 children and young people through their outreach projects so far this year.

Charlie Chan, RSPCA Community Engagement Manager, said: "We're delighted to be able to restart our outreach projects after the Coronavirus crisis mostly brought our work to a halt. As a team, we have been learning to adapt to these changes and have seen an increased demand in our digital resources as well as offering some socially distanced face-to-face sessions which have helped pave the way for our return."

We now hope to be able to create a wildlife garden which will act as a Covid-safe space for children and young people to interact with us on-site. Having this outdoor space is especially important at the moment during the pandemic and it will also be a fantastic opportunity for the groups to get involved in the allotment and grow herbs and plants for the animals at the centre.

As well as the outreach work in the community, this will be the next step for Birmingham's education offer and the team is currently seeking funding to help make this a reality.

Throughout the lockdown, the education team at the RSPCA's Birmingham Animal Centre has helped to support schools with welfare education resources, as well as continuing All Stars sessions, a partnership with the West Midlands Police led by PC Matt Shakespeare.

Robert Moffat, Birmingham Youth Engagement Officer, said: "All Stars aims to increase confidence, self-esteem and aspirations, and develop compassion and empathy for animals. Following lockdown, we were requested by West Midlands Police to start our education work again in Birmingham to help support the young people of our community through this challenging period. The course was adapted to ensure the safety of all involved with everything being sanitised and social distancing rules followed."

From swapping whiteboards in a classroom for chalk on the ground outside to allow the children to draw different animals and talk through their needs, and voting with their feet by moving in their bubble to indicate whether they would phone the RSPCA or police for certain scenarios, the sessions have been successfully adapted to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

Rob added: "The young people left us inspired and it¿s great to see that even through this difficult time, we are able to continue to support the community around us and promote kindness."

PC Matt Shakespeare from West Midlands Police, said: "All Stars is helping young people in the Northfield constituency as we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic and has a focus on helping to rebuild lost confidence and take great steps towards increasing community cohesion."

From litter picking to developing an eco committee, each activity is designed to help children and young people learn about the wider world around them, the environment, and the needs of animals in an engaged and interactive way. They focus on the five animal welfare needs, welfare issues and sentience, as well as some of the projects being accredited with AQA Unit Awards.