Halina and the Duke of Edinburgh

5 August 2015

When Jane Goodall came to Orkney as part of the science festival, I watched her give a talk via video link that really inspired me...

Halina DofEShe talked about Roots & Shoots which is a programme she set up. It aims to help people, animals and the environment through small community-based projects. It is based on the idea that anything you can do to improve your local surroundings can make a difference.  I thought we could set up a programme in the school, but ended up doing it in the community in my area.

I have the type of personality where I dream really big. My DofE Assessor really helped me to narrow down my focus and made sure that the project was relevant to our local area and the people in it.

I got in touch with people in the local area through friends and posters and I even went on local radio to publicise it.

We started off with an initial meeting to see who was interested, what they would be interested in doing and what skills they might have to bring to the projects. It was a small meeting to start with, but it was good to get ideas together.

It was difficult to get people to know about the project as it was growing. Most people who were involved were friends. It’s difficult to expand it out and get people interested when they don’t have a direct connection, but Orkney is brilliant. Doing it in Orkney was what made it successful it’s just such a supportive and interested community. If it had been somewhere else it probably wouldn’t have taken off the way it did.

Most of our projects were cleaning up areas that had a lot of litter from traffic going by. As the group grew, the areas that we could cover got more ambitious. We ended up helping to clean quite a few streets in the local area.

It was a real accomplishment that it started from just an idea.

I think what I achieved in organising people to clean up the area was really a success and it’s something that can be ongoing. I’m really proud of starting it up and guiding it in the fledgling times. It took a bit of readjustment to think about it as a community group, not a school group. It’s great that we managed to achieve it in the broader community because it’s a bit more difficult to get people involved when there’s no connection.