Firstly, we had no idea where to begin with this! Each year we love going through our social impact – the challenges, successes and magic moments throughout the months – but there’s so much to each point that’s hidden. So, if something we mention below intrigues you, please do get in touch to find out more about it.
In 2023, we have taken on board a whole load of inspiration and motivation shared through your support. So THANK YOU very much, each and every one of you. Your support really does make a difference, it inspires us to keep growing Wild Intrigue – so much in fact that as of 2023, our small Community Interest Company supports 2.5 full time equivalent paid staff!
So, what’s our social enterprise been up to this year? Have a peek below…
This year we hosted 250 wildlife events sharing nature in Northern England with over 2000 people directly, including 400 children.
We launched eight new wildlife experiences, and introduced one new experience host site; the magnificent Hepple Wilds in Northumberland. This brought our collection of wildlife experiences across Northern England to 28!
We love working with others to share the wonderful people, places and wildlife of The North, and this year collaborated with 20 local organisations to host events – from social enterprise bakeries to sustainable breweries, wildlife organisations and dedicated patch surveyors. Our wildlife experiences are an opportunity to show that an abundant, resilient natural world can add value to wider areas of society, and return tens of thousands of pounds to the local economy each year.
This year we started hosting free monthly nature walks for those who access the brilliant services St Vincents Community Support Centre in Newcastle. Together we’ve spied on urban Roe Deer, discovered the Tyne Kittiwakes and shared our inter- generational and cultural intrigue for nature.
We’ve been out and about producing media to show the incredible work of organisations in Northern England and beyond, demonstrating how many wonderful people in rural and urban landscapes are enhancing opportunities for nature, including RSPB, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Tyne Rivers Trust.
Wild Haweswater’s landscape of nature restoration continues to provide us with opportunities to host wildlife experiences and local employment, together with the RSPB we’re continuing to demonstrate the possibility of a sustainable nature-based economy in this beautiful corner of the Lake District National Park.
Our Wild Hides Ranger, Matthew, returned for another season at Wild Haweswater – taking excellent care of our wildlife photography hides and guests. Matthew was also very fortunate to attend the reintroduction of Water Voles to Wild Haweswater, sharing his photography skills to capture the incredible moment for the RSPB.
We established a working relationship with the wonderful, newly restored community pub in the village of Bampton, The Mardale Inn, who kindly provide guests of our Wild Haweswater experiences a discount on their accommodation.
We continued our ambition to share information, and a little inspiration, about beavers with the delivery of 10 free beaver talks attended by 355 people in Northern England. These have varied from discussions in urban Newcastle as part of the Ouseburn Wild Talks programme to a talk for the Natural History Society of Northumbria and future careers talks for young people in Carlisle.
In June, National Trust Wallington became the first site in Northumberland to reintroduce beavers in an enclosed release on their estate – we were delighted to attend the release itself where a family of two adults and two kits stepped foot onto our land for the first time in around 400 years. Following the release beaver family on the estate, we hosted a series of staff and local community information sessions on for National Trust Wallington.
We also enjoyed attending the Beaver Trust’s first national conference at the University of Exeter for a weekend interesting talks and field trips.
The Tyne Kittiwake colony continued to be another focus of ours, and Tyne Kittiwake Week ran for its second year, with an exhibition and education hub based from The Bottleworks in Ouseburn. We gained some brilliant insights from the local community living alongside the Kittiwakes and shared new information on the species ecology and declining conservation status to empower them in discussions about coexistence.
We were delighted to be invited by North Shields band Hector Gannet, ongoing supporters of Wild Intrigue and the Tyne Kittiwakes, to speak about our urban seafarers to a crowd of 450 people at their sold-out gig at The Sage (now known as The Glasshouse International Centre for Music).
It’s important that we develop our small team’s expertise, to keep our experiences and projects fresh, relevant and progressive. This year, Heather and Cain visited Biesbosch National Park in The Netherlands to discover how they champion beavers as an icon of success and positivity in this National Park, and have established a balance between recreation and nature restoration.
We were also delighted to be accepted onto a funded ERASMUS trip in Saxony, Germany, to gain insights and experience in European nature restoration, conservation and tourism – with a focus on Beavers, Ospreys and Cranes.
Since it was the end of our summer season, and our transport was funded, we stretched this European trip into a wider month long expedition. We gained inspiration and knowledge about coexistence with urban wildlife in Berlin, witnessed the wonderful autumn migration in southern Denmark and explored vast areas of urban wilderness in the cityscape of Copenhagen. We had some spectacular wildlife encounters during this trip, but also made some brilliant contacts and have already started implementing many of the findings into our work.
All our UK and European trips were attended using public transport.
Throughout the year we’ve been slowly developing a new community project – Wild Ouseburn – to explore, document and celebrate the wildlife of Ouseburn, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This is the first project we’ve received considerable external funding for so are really excited at its potential. Early in 2023 Wild Ouseburn gained support for its development through the Northumbrian Water Branch Out Fund. It is also the first project to have received support from the Rewilding Britain Rewilding Innovation Fund, so we’re looking forward to contributing to this organisation’s body of expertise to advise on future urban rewilding.
Our year ended with the closure of our Aviva community crowdfunder for Wild Ouseburn, which has received the most incredible support by so many of you. The crowdfund closed with an incredible £6880 thanks to thesupport of 108 individuals, and many more beyond this who shared the project.
Wild Ouseburn will be launching in January 2024, and we simply cannot wait!
Phew. Thanks for getting this far! This has been a simple overview of Wild Intrigue’s 2023, with plenty of challenges along the way, but most importantly with hundreds of fully happy moments throughout the year.
We’re not fibbing when we say we couldn’t do all this without you. Every booking you make onto a wildlife experience, each time you support one of our projects, every time to stop for a chat with us, or the continued support you share on social media – it all keeps us boosted to keep going, and we’re so grateful. Together we’re growing Wild Intrigue into a lovely thing, through which the wonderful people, places and wildlife of The North can be discovered, protected and restored.