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We look forward to welcoming you to Woodland Skills Centre 

 

Latest News….

MIND We have just come to the end of another 8 week programme for Flintshire Local Voluntary Council and MIND. This course is funded by Actif Woods Wales with a grant from Natural Resources Wales. We have been working with a group of 11 people who have been referred to MIND for support. During their 8 week course they follow a level 1 OCN course in Coppice Products. There will be funding to run the course again later this year.

FLVC Young Adults with Autism

We are part way through an 8 week course with a group of young adults with autism who have been referred by Flintshire Local Voluntary Council. They are following the same level 1 OCN course in Coppice Products. This programme is also funded by Actif Woods Wales through their grant from Natural Resources Wales.

OPUS

We have just finished a 6 week course with a group of long-term unemployed adults on behalf of Denbighshire County Council. They all completed a certificated course in Emergency First Aid at Work and also 2 of our own courses – Coppice Crafts and Green Woodwork. DCC would like to us to run further courses with long-term unemployed.

Community Support Services

Our Tuesday and Wednesday groups of adults with complex disabilities, funded by Social Services, continue to be successful with a high attendance rate. Both days are now full as we have taken on 3 young adults with autism who have integrated well into the groups.

Community Support – new group

We have been awarded funding to set up a group on one day a week which will be for young adults with autism and other learning difficulties who have recently left college and who have personal support budgets and are looking for daytime provision. This will help us to explore how adults with complex disabilites can access provision as central commissioning comes to an end.

Nottingham Trent University

In February we ran a 3 day course for mature students from NTU who are middle and senior managers in business doing a part-time degree course. The focus was on Corporate Social Responsibility and we looked at how our Centre was built on sustainability – both in the management of  the land and in our business model – and the interconnectedness of the natural world and how business should respond to their social responsibilities. The course went well and NTU want to use us again.

Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn (the Regional Centre for Autism Education) – Primary Department

We have been concerned for some years that we do not engage enough with children with additional needs and their families. They seldom come to Holiday Club or on Family Events. We have been awarded funding to work with Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn to offer a progression through Forest School to Holiday Club to Family Days. This will both allow us to develop new techniques to provide suitable programmes and also to make families with children with additional needs aware of what we offer.

Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn – Secondary

The pupils in Year 11 will be coming to us for one day a week in the second half of the summer term for an outdoor programme – Forest School, Bushcraft and craftwork.

Pupil Inclusion

We have just started a 10 week course with a group of Year 10 pupils from Flint High which is part of the TRAC programme. We are also taking two year 11 pupils as direct referrals from their school.

Ruthin School

A group of 12 students from Ruthin School are with us for Wednesday afternoons for the whole of this school term, as part of their extra-curricular programmes, doing bushcraft and learning about the woodland.

Courses

Courses are going well with many fully booked. We have already had students from Scotland, the east of England and one from the USA. We have several new courses which  are already fully booked : rush hats, knife making, re-handling tools. We are also offering various art classes (screen printing, felt work, water colour painting) and a new course on Make a Deckchair – day one to screen print the canvas and day 2 to assemble the frame and fix the canvas.

Hafod y Green

We will be working with Hafod y Green residential care home again this year with a small group, mostly wheelchair users, coming to us every 2 weeks.

Volunteers

Our Monday Volunteer Group are invaluable. They have been working on refitting the workshops, building in more storage and making them fully wheelchair accessible.

Disabled access

Once the wokshops are fully accessible for wheelchair users we will start to look at how we can develop techniques for wheelchair users to be able to take part in a wide range of craft activities.

Natural Resources Wales

We have been asked by NRW to deliver training for Youth and Community Leaders to help them to deliver activities in the outdoors.

Mindfulness in the Woods

Following on from the success of our Mindfulness in the Woods courses we have extended our programme and offer now one-day retreats ‘A Sense of Place’ – Mindfulness, Art and Poetry.

Live in the Woods

Our popular Live in the Woods events will be back again this year with acoustic live music in the woods and some poetry too…Follow this link for more information:

Live in the Woods 2019

 

Newsletter August 2018

Courses Courses have been going well and several of our new courses, such as the Bushcraft courses and Knife forging, have been fully booked.

Stockport Scouts We had an interesting weekend when 8 Scout Leaders came for the Saturday and had an advanced Bushcraft Skills day and then their Cubs came on the Sunday and the Leaders put their new skills into practice.

City Farms and Community Gardens We hosted a regional meeting and Skills Share day earlier in the year and since then have been acting as Mentor for the Garth Hillside Community Garden in Glyn Ceiriog who want to develop programmes like ours.

Liverpool University Department of Architecture We had our second project with the Department in May. The students designed a garden building for a private client in Bodfari and we advised in the design, sourced all the timber and managed the construction over the weekend. The students camped at the Centre and had use of our facilities.

TRAC This is a programme to offer education other than at school for pupils who have been excluded from school, are very disruptive or who refuse to go to school. We have been running 6 programmes all of which have gone very well. They are demanding on our staff and require a high staffing ratio but attendance has been good and we anticipate further programmes from September.

Live in the Woods Our monthly live music events are going well. We are doing this as part of our mission to make the woods a place of enjoyment. We have been pleased to welcome several of our neighbours to the events.

Bee Friendly we have been awarded Bee Friendly status by the Welsh Government. We are developing our apiary with the assistance of two experienced local bee-keepers and hope to develop the apiary into a demonstration site.

Barnardo’s We are collaborating with Barnardo’s to run holiday activities for children with significant special needs.

Prestatyn Town Council During August we will be running 3 days at the Centre, on behalf of the Council, working with families with children with autism and other conditions.

AONB We have hosted 2 meetings for the AONB – one for the staff and one for the panel who deal with applications to the Sustainable Development Fund. They were pleased to see the 2 buildings both of which they gave grants for.

Flintshire Social Services We have run 2 days for the staff. One was craft courses as part of their annual team day and one was at our Centre when we ran a team day in the woods.

Community Support This is the programme for adults with complex disabilities that we deliver for 2 days a week on behalf of Denbighshire Social Services. The current contract runs till 2020 and we have just had our annual review when we were told that SS were very pleased with the programme. The whole area of support for adults with special needs is changing with a move away from central commissioning to giving individuals control over their own budgets and deciding what services they wish to have. This will have implications for us. It is probable that we will have a higher level of demand and we will need to manage this to ensure that the groups we have do not have too wide a range of needs. We are working with Social Services to look at offering an additional day for young adults with autism who have come to the end of supported education and lack further provision. One of the consequences of the changes is that DCC’s central provision of transport is likely to end and individuals will have to make their own arrangements. We need to plan for this and consider whether we provide our own transport.

Rhyl Women’s Centre We are in discussion with the Centre about ways in which we can support their work both with the adults and also with families.

Minister for the Environment Hannah Blyddyn is to visit the Centre. Her primary reason is to look at how the Sustainable Development Fund money has been used but she is also interested to find out about the work of the Centre and it will be an opportunity for us to try to get the Welsh Government to support the establishment of  Centres such as ours throughout Wales.

Wildflower Verges We have been awarded some short-term funding by DCC to play a central role in the new project and DCC is looking for long-term funding. Our role will be to receive seeds collected from sites in the area and grow them for distribution to local groups.

Volunteers We are continuing with our Monday Volunteer Day. We have a small regular group but could do with some more volunteers. The group undertakes work in the woods and around the site which is beyond the capability of our service user groups.

St Kentigern’s We hosted a Family Day in the Woods for St Kentigern’s Hospice.

Mindfulness in the Woods We have been running a series of courses with each session lasting for 3 hours, starting indoors and then moving out into the woods before returning to the Centre for a shared simple meal.

RHS We have attended two RHS shows again this year – Chatsworth and Tatton. These shows involve significant input from our staff but do promote the Centre to a large number of people and result in course bookings and other work.

Visits We continue to visit various local community groups to give a presentation about the work of the Centre and also welcome community groups who visit the Centre.

 

***** Launch of new course ‘Mindfulness in the Woods *****

There has been a lot of coverage in the press recently about the benefits of Mindfulness on mental health and wellbeing.

A very interesting interview of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of MBCT (Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) and MBSR (Mindfulness-based stress reduction) was published in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/22/mindfulness-jon-kabat-zinn-depression-trump-grenfell#img-2

Woodland Skills Centre has supported health and wellbeing for many years in their provision of Social Forestry Level3 OCN courses but also through the work with the various special needs groups that visit the Centre on a regular basis.

As an extension of our programme we are excited to now run this new course:

Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting course

Come and experience mindfulness in the award-winning 50 acre Warren Woods.

We currently offer sessions as an introduction to Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting that are suitable for anyone over the age of 18 who either already practises mindfulness or wants to explore the benefits of mindfulness in nature.

The aim of the session is to become aware of the small changes in the physical sensations in your body, your thoughts, moods and emotions and what is happening in the world around you.

Some of the benefits of practising mindfulness include:

General happiness and contentment – Greater harmony in relationships – Enhanced insight and clarity – Improved analytical skills – Increased curiosity, openness and acceptance – Reduction in anxiety, depression and stress – Improved memory and concentration – Enhanced ability to deal with illness and to manage pain – Reduced risk of heart problems – Improved immune system responses.

The sessions will take place in the beautiful tranquil woodland where we will experience nature at its best. In case of inclement weather we will have the use of one of the timber-framed Centre buildings heated by a wood-burner stove.

The sessions will be led by Sabine Soosten, a Level 3 qualified ‘Mindfulness in Woodland’ practitioner.

Cost £15 including a simple vegetarian meal

For further information please email enquiries@woodlandskillscentre.co.uk or phone the session leader, Sabine Soosten, on 01745 710626

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Volunteer Programme

The regular Volunteer day takes place every Monday from 10.00 till 3.00 to look after our 50 acre site – woodlands, tree nursery, arboretum, heritage orchard, wildflower meadow, vineyard, Forest School sites.

Volunteers work with one of our staff who ensures that full training is given. You will learn about our woodlands and what lives in them, a range of woodland management skills, habitat creation and wildlife monitoring.

If the weather is bad we have the use of our large workshops and make products from material we harvest from the woods.

We provide tea, coffee and biscuits and we have the use of one of our heated timber frame buildings. Just bring a packed lunch and suitable outdoor clothing and we will take care of the rest.

If you are interested in this opportunity please contact us by email enquiries@woodlandskillscentre.co.uk or phone 01745 710626.


 

Reviews…..

Mindfulness in the Woods course
 
I have attended two Mindfulness courses at the centre and absolutely loved them both. I was a little nervous at first but was made to feel extremely welcome. The courses were fantastic and I loved every minute of them. Being quite a anxious person the course has provided me with the skills, knowledge and the desire to practice mindfulness daily and it is now part of my life. I would go as far as to say that the course is life-changing and extremely beneficial to my wellbeing. The surroundings are beautiful and I am looking forward to attending again soon to further develop my skills and practice. That you so much Sabine for sharing your knowledge with me, the impact has been profound. If you are interested in the mindfulness course, I would advise you to take the leap of faith and book, you won’t regret it!
Rebecca, July 2018
Live in the Woods
‘what a wonderful night on Friday at Garry’s concert, I loved every minute of it, such a beautiful way of combining music in a natural setting well done.’  (Live in the Woods – Gary Edward Jones)
John, April 2018

 

‘Just a note to say a big Thankyou for a great evening last Friday. Phil and I and friends Kathy and John really enjoyed it and hope to be able to come to the next one! Weren’t we lucky with the weather too! You must be very pleased that it was such a success……..worth all the hard work getting ready.’  (Live in the Woods – Gary Edward Jones)
Mel & Phil, April 2018

 

Kids Holiday Club
My girls Sofia and freya would like to thank you after an amazing two days with you . They are genuinely sad it’s come to an end and I would highly recommend you to any parents wanting to encourage kids off gagets and engage with nature.
Diana, February 2018
Bowl Turning on a Pole-lathe course
Just wanted to say thanks again for another superb course at the WSC. Really enjoyable and a great learning environment. Thanks also to you and the team for making me feel welcome. Hope to see you soon.
Martin, October 2017
Tool Sharpening Course
I did a tool sharpening course, one day, with Doug. I found it extremely helpful. Obviously you’re not going to become an expert in a day, but you can bring your own tools and the course is designed to help you learn what sharpening skills are most useful for you. By the end of the day I felt much more competent and had a clearer idea how to look after my wood carving tools. Doug was a patient and well informed instructor and there was only four of us in the group so you get plenty of one on one time. Sharpening is crucial for anyone learning to carve so I’d definitely recommend this.
Eadon, May 2017
Review from a regular visitor
Superbly well kitted out centre with campsite, green woodworking centre, examples of carbon neutral building and well managed diverse woodland. A well curated set of courses and workshops keep our family coming back for more!
David, May 2017
 

Make a Shave Horse – Review

Had a great day yesterday making a shave horse. Lovely friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Help on hand when needed but allowed to just get on with it too. Second visit for a course and I’m sure it won’t be my last.David,

David, October 2016

 

Review Charcoal Course

Hi guys, just a quick note to say thank you so much for an excellent day making charcoal, Helens knowledge and explanations were spot on, can’t believe l learnt so much in just one day, had a really fun day with Sabine and Dylan as well, thank you for your company! Will definitely be returning ASAP and for the woodland courses in October, best wishes to you all till then ; )))

John, May 2016

LlyG member blog – Beaufort report on five star social forestry training

Recently Llais y Goedwig initiated a pilot bursary scheme to support community woodlands attend Coed Lleol’s Social Forestry OCN course. The course explores the use of woodlands to promote social and human wellbeing, equipping trainees with the tools to apply Social Forestry ideas in practice – suitable for social foresters, woodland owners/managers and health, wellbeing and social care professionals. Here Roy from Beaufort Community Woodlands, a recipient of a pilot bursary reports back on his inspiring experience, and what he will be taking back to his group.

Having travelled up through the beautiful countryside of Mid Wales I arrived at the Bodfari Woodlands Skills Centre (pictured above) to a warm welcome from both Rod and Julia.

During the morning of the first day the group had an introduction to the ethos and belief behind the management of the woodlands; the idea the woodlands should have a Social, Environmental and Financial element: all of equal importance. The initial talk was followed by an overview of the History of the centre and the services it provides to its users. The afternoon session was led by Alan – with a tour of the woodlands, discussing how they managed the site via Coppice to standards or Continuous cover with much emphasis on the benefits to both the environment and diverse habitats. How rational management builds in long term resilience.

The first day was also covered with a mindfulness session – a type of meditation. Walking into the woodlands, trying to empty your mind of your worries, feeling the earth below your feet, allowing your senses to take in the sounds and smells around you. If this sounds very hippyish- do not knock it until you try it.

The course progressed over the next three days: covering aspects such as the human impact on woodlands well-being both negative and positive. A practical series of sessions where covered on: Woodland management – where the group removed pioneer silver birch saplings from a unique heathland habitat, Risk assessment for social forestry activities, Hazel coppicing, leading onto bush craft activities.

Important legal aspects were also discussed, such as woodland protection under law, the role of the Disclosure and Barring Service if you undertake activities with children. The final practical session allowed individuals to investigate their own interests, strengths or weaknesses. Most had the chance to sit astride a shave horse – paring down timber with a draw blade. Others cleave timber to manufacture bespoke artefacts. One or two more adventurous souls created Hazel hurdles; making use of a rounding plane. I am particularly pleased with the mallet manufactured from a solid piece of beech (I am simply pleased).

Following the attendance at the course there are two immediate impacts to my Society; to undertake the planting of a stand of Hazel for coppicing. It became apparent from the Social Forestry course that Hazel is a sustainable species for forest activities. When applying for grants in the future my society will be able to highlight the knowledge and experience gained from the course.

If you have the opportunity to attend this course, it’s a must for all those who are active within their own woodlands. It puts your personal experiences into context whilst filling in gaps within your own knowledge. If it was on trip advisor – I would have to rate it with five stars.

Roy, June 2016

Family Weekend

We had a brilliant weekend with you. Thank you so much for everything. See you again very soon.

Nic, September 2015

Review Basket Making course

Yet another wonderful weekend making baskets with the amazing teacher and basket maker Mandy Coates.

Such a beautiful place and the people that run it are so knowledgeable, welcoming and friendly.

I highly recommend any of their courses. Still smiling five hours later, and I succeeded in making a log basket. Very proud.

Thanks everyone! See you soon.

Kate, July 2016

Review Wood Carving course

I have been there several times. Our daughter did a wood owl carving course there and thoroughly enjoyed it. Really friendly and helpful people. I am really impressed with their eco classroom. Its definitely worth picking up some of their BBQ charcoal. Never had anything better. Will be back again.

Andy, April 2016

Review for ‘Managing a Small Woodland’ and ‘Practical Woodland Tasks’

I recently attended a course at the WSC, and would like to write a few words about it:

I originally applied for the Practical Woodland Tasks course, but not enough signed up for it; however, the WSC suggested I attend the Managing a Small Woodland, and they would adapt part of this for me, to include some of the Practical Tasks course;  so I experienced part of each course, the best of both worlds!  I commend the WSC for their adaptability.

Managing a Small Woodland is aimed at those thinking of buying, or who have recently bought, a small woodland.  Part of the day is spent looking at different compartments of the woodland owned by the WSC and how each is managed, with successes and failures.  The day also covers the woodland owner and the law.

I spent the afternoon having a one-to-one session covering some aspects of Practical Woodland Tasks – tree planting and aftercare; and looking at recent plantings to consider which trees should be selected as potential standards and how they could be improved by formative pruning.

Both parts of the day were very helpful to me as a new woodland owner, and I would recommend both courses to potential or new owners.  The Centre offers courses for small numbers and the tutors are very relaxed and helpful.  Fabulous setting on the edge of the Clwydian Hills too!

S. Liptrot

Bushcraft knife

Many thanks for your course at Bodfari. Appreciated your patience, fascinating all the way & I am ever so chuffed with the result!

Chas

Denbigh Scouts and Cubs

The Woodland Skills Centre was very much enjoyed by the group.

In fact this was the best thing the Cubs said we did during this year.

Just being able to explore a beautiful woodland, cook over an open fire, foraging, understanding more about trees and nature.

Plus they certainly really loved learning from the experts on how to use various tools , making nest boxes, willow and gypsy crafts, so thank you all for this.

Denbigh Scouts and Cubs who came on a series of visits in 2015

Shave-horse

I wanted to say than you once again to yourself and Alan for what has been an absolutely splendid day. I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a learning experience so much.

I’ve just arrived home and had the whole family trying out my new ‘shave horse’ in the back garden, along with lots of curious looks from the neighbors!

Everything about the Woodland Skills Centre is brilliant, from the new training block to the incredible workshop and of course the skill and knowledge of the team, it’s like an explosion of sights and sounds that keeps you thirsting for more.

I will be back, and next time I won’t be alone!

Dave, 2014