Welsh Harp environmental education center may close due to loss of funding

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An educational center where children learn to protect animals and plants is in danger of closing because no one wants to pay for its upkeep.

The Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre, based near a reservoir in north-west London, is looking for someone to manage it long-term, fearing it could be forced to close in the near future.

It offers activities for children outside of the classroom, where they can learn about woodland creatures and learn about the importance of local plant species and water sources. The center is currently run by the charity Thames21, which took over after Brent Council said it could no longer support it financially.

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A report presented to the Welsh Harp joint advisory committee in late July said Thames21 would continue to provide “some services” for another year, while the search for a “longer term solution” continued. He added that the Brent Council had been “in discussions” with organizations to see if they could help run the site but, so far, nothing concrete has been confirmed.

David Stevens, local resident and Green Party member, said: ‘I think it’s hugely important, in relation to the climate emergency declared by Brent, that children are educated about the environment and enjoy being there.

“The Welsh Harp Environment Center has supported this premise for many generations. I myself have made school trips there, so I have my own children. Besides, wasn’t it David Attenborough who said that we can’t expect young people to fight to preserve the environment if they haven’t experienced it?

He added that there was clear support from all quarters to help save the center and that it was now time to put in place practical measures to achieve this. David said: “What is particularly encouraging at Brent is the cross-party support for the environment. We may all be political rivals elsewhere, but when it comes to green issues, we are all keen to work together.

“The proof in the pudding is that there was recently a meeting regarding the center attended by all four major parties as well as residents and other interested parties. May this multi-party effort continue for a long time and may the center be saved as a community asset.

The center currently offers group sessions for schools and birthday parties. Up to 30 people can participate in sessions of two hours for £130 or four hours for £230. A ‘self-directed learning’ experience is another option, with tours costing £60 for two-hour access and £120 for four hours.

A Brent Council spokesman said: “A decision has not yet been taken and we are currently considering options for the long-term use of the center so that it can continue to be used for the benefit of the local community. ” The Local Democracy Reporting Service has contacted Thames21 for comment.


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