Trust workers are joined by volunteers from Serco and Dare to create a wood near Settle

Trust workers are joined by volunteers from Serco and Dare to create a wood near Settle

Refugees and asylum seekers were among an international group that spent time improving the Yorkshire Dales environment by helping to plant 700 trees in the area.

The saplings were part of a new area of woodland near the town of Settle.

The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust charity organised the project, which involved staff from service company Serco and Darwen Asylum Seekers and Refugee Enterprise planting native species including oak, holly, hawthorn, bird cherry and crab apple at the site.

Staff from Serco’s Compass contract, which provides housing and transport for asylum seekers, left their Warrington office for a day in the Dales countryside and were joined by refugees from Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria who are currently service users of Dare, which provides free English lessons and advice on finding employment, as well as working with the trust to offer days out such as the tree planting in the Yorkshire Dales.

Among more than 500 people have benefited from the longstanding partnership between Dare and YDMT so far was Habib Muhamed from Somalia. He said: “I am happy to be out today; normally I am always inside at home. It is good to be doing something.

“I am so happy to be helping the environment by planting the trees.”

Lea Petrie, transport team leader at Serco, said: “It’s been nice to visit the Yorkshire Dales and meet people from different backgrounds. I’ve learnt about the different types of trees that we’ve been planting.”

Dare co-founder John East recently received a YDMT champion award and a cheque for £1,000 in recognition of his work, as part of the trust’s 20th anniversary celebrations in 2017 which saw the charity give 20 awards to recognise the contribution of some of the groups, organisations and individuals whose work helps to sustain and celebrate the Yorkshire Dales.

Judy Rogers, community worker at YDMT, nominated Mr East for the award. She said: “John was one of the first people I worked with to bring a group to the Dales through our education and outreach programme.

“He has continued to be involved ever since, initially as part of his job, and then on a voluntary basis. My work depends on the dedication and commitment of people like John: individuals within the community who organise, mobilise and accompany people out into the Dales. He’s a truly inspirational person.”

Mr East said: “Over the last 10 years many hundreds of clients have visited the Dales from Blackburn with Darwen asylum and refugee community, especially those victims of torture, civil war, abuse, imprisonment and intolerance.

“Many have benefited from these visits and I can only thank the many local residents and partners for giving them the opportunity to demonstrate freedom of mind and spirit, but above all to experience the beauty and tranquillity the Dales can offer.

“I feel honoured and privileged to be given this award.”

He added that the award will help to support future clients, to relieve their suffering and provide support at a local level and said he hopes many more people will visit the Dales to experience the wonders of ‘Dalesmanship fellowship’.

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