Conservation careers take seed on Tooting Common

Published: Friday 24th February 17

So far 15 Wandsworth residents have taken their first steps into ground maintenance and landscape conservation industry thanks to the £1.9m Tooting Common Heritage Project.

The trainees - including Dameon Napoli, Ana Viera, Andrew Kauffman and Billy Mohan  - have been working on the common for the last few months and have now successfully completed a bespoke Level 1 City and Guilds Diploma in Land Based Studies (Environmental Conservation).   

The accredited course was developed specially for the project by the council’s parks contractor Enable Leisure and Culture, working with idverde, SLIC Training and Job Centre Plus Wandsworth.

So far 11 candidates have passed the course with merits and four achieved distinctions.

Last year Wandsworth Council was awarded just under £1.4m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore, conserve and enhance the cultural and natural heritage of Tooting Common. Another £500,000 is being match funded by various partners including Transport for London, The Woodfield Project, Wandsworth Council and Enable Leisure and Culture.

Thanks to National Lottery players, work is now well underway across several part of the common, including the revival of rare acid grassland and resorting the aquatic habitats on the margins of Tooting Bec Lake. 

Trainee Dameon Napoli said:

“I live locally and have always brought my children here to play. Now I have made a positive impact on this space – it’s great.  As well as that I’ve learnt some new skills and got some more qualifications.”

Billy Mohan has also completed the level 1 diploma, he said: 

“I heard about this opportunity at the job centre and decided I wanted to give this a go. I have really enjoyed being able to work outside in the common. The first week was key for us all, as it was spent more on safety and maintenance of the equipment we’d be using. That gives you confidence.”

Ana and Dameon at work on Tooting Common

Andrew Kauffman, Assistant Director at idverde, said:

“It has been a pleasure to work in partnership to develop this bespoke accredited training offer as part of the Tooting Common Heritage Project. It is great to see the confidence of candidates grow during the course. To then see them moving into full time employment is extremely rewarding, and testament to the dedication of all involved, but particularly the hard work of the candidates themselves.’

Ana Viera, another successful trainee, said:

“We started at 8am and finished about 3pm to do an hour of class based coursework. I loved using the strimmer – once I was all in the gear I didn’t want to let the other guys have a go! I’d be really keen to turn this into a job with idverde. This has been a great starting point though, and I have transferable skills I didn’t have before.”

Cllr Jonathan Cook, deputy council leader, said:

”It was a pleasure to meet the team and you can see their enthusiasm for a career in ground maint idverde enance and landscape conservation . I’m delighted these training opportunities are being seized and it’s great so see boroughs residents taking a hands-on role in restoring this wonderful historic common.”

Wandsworth Council’s Tooting Common Heritage Project is managed by Enable Leisure and Culture in partnership with the South London Swimming Club, the Woodfield Project, idverde, the Tooting History Group and the Wandsworth Historical Society. 

Key elements include:

  • Restoration of the 1930s drinking fountain and the fossil tree enclosure
  • Restoration and expansion of acid grassland areas on the Lido Field and Tooting Graveney Woods
  • Developing a heritage trail for Tooting Common to convey the historical significance of the site
  • The creation of marginal aquatic vegetation parcels on Tooting Bec Lake
  • Improving conditions for assorted veteran trees and historic tree avenues
  • Replanting the Horse Chestnut Avenue for the next generation
  • Additional tree planting, tree disease investigation and tree strategy development
  • To restore and refurbish the Woodfield pavilion as a low-energy and multipurpose building and to establish it as a community hub
  • Providing accredited training and learning opportunities in horticulture and conservation for local people on Tooting Common
  • Exploring the rich history of Tooting Common through historical research and communicate the historical significance of the common to a wider audience
  • Celebrating the history of the South London Swimming Club and safeguarding the history and heritage of Tooting Bec Lido through restoration and interpretation

Find out more on the council’s website and from more information on the training opportunities email Susanna Kryuchenkova, Tooting Common Heritage Project Manager at SKryuchenkova@wandsworth.gov.uk.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. http://www.hlf.org.uk/.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

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Helen khan

24 February 2017