By Kaylee Sprigmore
What is a ‘Hedgehog Friendly Campus’?
Hedgehog Friendly Campus, run by Jo Wilkinson, is a national campaign accredited by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Hedgehog Friendly Campus was put in place to bring students and staff together to promote hedgehog safety and adapt our campuses to allow hedgehogs to thrive. Around 65 universities, including the University of Chester, have signed up to this initiative, with the goal to achieve a Hedgehog Friendly Campus accreditation. Bronze, silver and gold awards are presented to universities for successfully completing fun, engaging and impactful activities resulting in greater hedgehog awareness and more hedgehog friendly habitats in and around university campuses.
Hedgehogs are a well-known and loved part of British wildlife, but unfortunately their numbers have declined by up to 50% since the year 2000. Reasons for this drastic reduction in numbers include environmental issues such as poisons, busier roads, litter and lack of food, water and connected habitat – in other words, threats created by humans. Hedgehog Friendly Campus allows universities to collectively take some control over these issues in their local area. As seen by the map image, Chester is a hot spot for reported hedgehog accidents on the roads. So, to help keep hedgehogs off the roads, the University of Chester, which covers large areas of suitable hedgehog habitat, needs to tailor its campuses to fit all their hoggy needs.
So what is our plan?
In April 2020, a group of students and staff at the University came together in the hopes of achieving a more hedgehog friendly campus. This group is led by Rebecca Turner, a Laboratory Manager at the University. Now, with over 25 students and staff involved, the University is aiming to attain the Bronze Hedgehog Friendly Campus accreditation by December 2020. In order to do so, as mentioned before, a certain number of initiatives need to be completed by the University. Specifically, for the Bronze award, 10 bronze initiatives need to be fulfilled before the end of the year. These include forming partnerships, providing information, carrying out fundraising, organising or attending events, promoting our campaign and actively making our campuses more hedgehog friendly. To date, we have achieved six out of the 10 initiatives needed, which we are all proud of, given the current circumstances.
So what have we achieved so far?
Despite the limitations of lockdown, the University’s Hedgehog Friendly Campus group has been working hard to plan and achieve as many initiatives as we can. Just by forming a working group and holding collective chats and meetings means we have achieved one initiative already. Our second and third completed initiatives were achieved shortly after by setting up our social media accounts, thanks to Amethyst Elson, and taking part in the Hedgehog Awareness Week event, from May 3 to 9 2020. Every day of Hedgehog Awareness Week we shared new hedgehog related information, tips and activities (such as the below wordsearch) on our social media accounts. The aim of this was to get others involved and educated on how, why and when you should help a hedgehog.
Our social media pages have also allowed us to promote our Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign, reaching other students and staff who have since joined the team and gaining us our fourth completed initiative. Our final two initiatives have been achieved through providing information to relevant parties on campus. Physical information has been provided for students in the Library, ready for the start of next term. The Grounds and Gardens team has also been reminded of the correct course of action to take if they find a sick, injured or orphaned hedgehog. Altogether, this puts us four initiatives away from reaching our first Bronze award goal. To see more of what we got up to over Hedgehog Awareness Week and to learn more about what we have achieved so far, give our social medias a follow – Twitter and Instagram @HedgehogsUoC, Facebook: University of Chester Hedgehog Friendly Campus.
So what’s next and how can you get involved?
To achieve the remaining four initiatives required, the Hedgehog Friendly Campus group has been putting together ideas which ourselves and other students at the University can get involved in. Two of which are aimed at undertaking actions to survey and provide suitable living habitats for the local hedgehog population. Although we currently can’t take action on site, we are on the hunt for volunteers to undertake hedgehog surveys in their own back gardens. On July 9, we are hosting a Hedgehog Survey Workshop which anyone can attend, aimed at providing our volunteers with simple hedgehog surveying techniques. The University has also been granted 20 surveying packs which are sent straight to those wanting to get involved. If you want to find out more or wish to sign up to this opportunity, do not hesitate to contact Rebecca via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. As surveying packs are limited, they will be given out on a first come first served basis, so make sure to enquire asap. Even if you cannot get your hands on a pack, you can still participate. Information about what you’ll need to survey your garden will be given in the workshop. We hope to see you there!
Hedgehog house building
Our Hedgehog Friendly Campus group has teamed up with the student led volunteering group Welly Wednesdays, run by myself and Courtney Smith, to organise an opportunity for students to participate in hedgehog house building on Campus in the new term. The exact details of this opportunity are unfinalised but to keep up with the latest news, follow @wellywednesday_uoc on Instagram.
Now we need you…
Two further student led projects have been put forward as ideas to complete our initiatives, however, we are still on the lookout for students to run them. The first being student led litter picking sessions on Campus and the second being a student led campaign around a particular issue that hedgehogs face, spreading awareness around the particular issue on Campus (or virtually, over summer). If you would like to lead, participate in or suggest another project idea, please contact Rebecca on the email above. We’d also love to hear from you if you’re interested in joining the hedgehog friendly group. This is the best way to keep up with all the latest news and get involved yourself, which will look great as an extracurricular activity!
Only when these initiatives have been achieved can the University of Chester become an accredited hedgehog friendly campus, and we hope you will help us (and the hedgehogs too!).