St Valentines Day is historically a day to declare love!
And, for the volunteering team at Heene Cemetery, their tireless work in recent years to clear brambles and invasive species from the site, it’s been a labour of love!
The team are passionate about what they do!
Under their care, they’ve nurtured the site, which as old meadow land is recognised as a West Sussex Site of Conservation Importance, and helped it blossom as an urban ‘Green Space’. It’s home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna – and dedicated researchers have been able to document the lives of the people who’ve been buried there.
The World Health Organisation has identified urban ‘green spaces’, as a way to address the trends towards decreased access to nature, and hazards such as noise pollution, that urbanisation can cause in communities.
So, this Valentine’s Day, we asked some of the team why local communities should love their urban green spaces. Speaking from their personal experiences at Heene, here’s what they have to say:
“A green space in the middle of an urban community helps the environment – it improves air quality and encourages wildlife.”Kim Fairweather, conservation volunteer
“This is a haven for wildlife. Visitors who walk around seem to leave looking much happier than when they arrived – and that goes for myself too.”Eila Holyroyd, conservation volunteer
“Being on the site of an ancient and undisturbed meadowland, the cemetery has not been damaged by centres of tilling and hoof-treading. The annual swish of scythes is the most activity the cemetery would have seen. This has allow an extraordinary diversity of species to survive into our modern, polluted age. It could give the community an understanding of habitat bio-diversity on our doorstep, different from what is in many over-manicured gardens.”Rob Tomlinson, nature photographer
“Heene is a unique cemetery full of history and the local community can help us with information about the people who are buried here.”Carol Sullivan, research volunteer
“Everyone is important and should not be forgotten.”Angela Levy, research volunteer
The links between exposure to the natural world and improved wellbeing are well documented. So urban ‘green spaces’ like Heene have a really important role to play in bringing these benefits to their local communitiesCindy D’Roza-Mortimer, volunteer communications consultant:
“I love old cemeteries, wildlife and working outside. I think it’s very important for spaces like this to be “cared for” otherwise there is always the threat of, often inappropriate, development which can be for short term financial gain.”Jane Tomlinson, volunteer
“If the work we’ve achieved so far is to be maintained and progressed, we do need more interest from local people – we need the local community to get involved!”Sue Standing, Chairperson:
Help out Heene Cemetery, an urban green space in the heart of Worthing this year!
Article developed by Cindy D’Roza-Mortimer, Volunteer Communications Consultant