Stepping Stones Video


National Trust & project partners

Project Leads

Helen Fairweather

Bigger, Better and more Joined Up is the principle of Stepping Stones, an ambitious nature recovery project in the Shropshire Hills National Landscape.

Resources for Change was commissioned to identify the wider needs of all relevant groups in the community, joining up environmental and social needs for mutual benefit.

We reviewed the strategic and policy context, and with the Steering Group co-designed and delivered consultations to reach all groups, including those less often heard from.

A good response to consultations brought out the considerable achievements so far, and showed:

  • Those already involved, or aware, were enthusiastic, wanting to build on successes.
  • Consultees appreciated the project’s role in networking, ‘joining the dots, being the glue across all activities’
  • The pioneering farmers’ network is consolidating and expanding, and is open to working with other groups.
  • Community groups were keen to collaborate more, and valued community cohesion alongside wildlife work. They need support for viability, but
  • want to bring activities across the project area together, to widen engagement inclusively, and create more volunteering opportunities.
  • Skills training and employability was the main driver for young people’s involvement, and engaging with their peers –‘doing things together’!
  • Project identity and ownership needs further development.

However, many of those not so far involved, were not aware of the programme or its relevance to their other concerns.

We identified a wealth of socio-economic needs data and potential partnership connections, such as the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and strategies for Outdoors, Health and Wellbeing and Culture. Involving Stepping Stones with these provides a clear opportunity to make connections outside the ‘green bubble’, matching the eagerness among engaged groups for more cohesion, joining with others and bringing more people in.

The engaged & enthusiastic client, and co-production of consultation delivery contributed to a well-received report, with our joint reflections on the results, with agreed recommendations which were practical and doable. “The report will be an important tool.. in shaping the future direction of the project.”

The co-production process could be demanding, and needs quick thinking and adaptability, being alert to potential problems early on.

The needs assessment is now helping to plan the next stage, while a new tranche of funding for species recovery has also enabled the team to move ahead with their 50 year vision.