Hampshire & Isle of Wight wildlife Trust has been awarded a £640,300 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant through the National Lottery to deliver a new programme called ‘Secrets of the Solent’ (SOTS) over the next four years.
Thousands of people live and work along the coast of the Solent, which supports important industries, fisheries and leisure businesses, and many more visit every year. Yet very few are aware of the incredible, hidden life under the surface, including beautiful seagrass meadows, chalk reefs, seahorses, thresher sharks and cuttlefish. Fewer still are aware of the threats that our Solent’s habitats and species face.
The aim of ‘Secrets of the Solent’ is to raise the profile, appreciation and understanding of the marine environment in the Solent, so that, in turn, its coastal communities can develop a sense of ownership, benefit and a desire to protect it. The project is in its initial phase at present. Secrets of the Solent will include the development of various creative ideas in order to build an understanding of the diversity and importance of the Solent’s marine wildlife. We are also trying to change public understanding of its locally-sourced seafood, and help increase the demand for those seafood species that are mainly sold abroad due to the lack of a market in this country. “Lives of the Solent” is part of the campaign that will bring an exhibition and photography project showcasing the lives and stories of those who work on the Solent.
One of the main ways the Trust is planning to achieve its aims is through creating the new role of a Marine Champion. Marine Champions are proactive, enthusiastic volunteers who want to give their time to inspire others to care for the Solent. Marine Champions will receive training to deliver a programme of inspirational and engaging marine activities that raise awareness about the importance of the marine life in the Solent. Secrets of the Solent will also be establishing a Marine Champion schools’ network in the years to come.
The Trust has already recruited Emily Stroud as Community Engagement officer for the project and look forward to welcoming its Project Manager, Rachel Bryan and Communications Officer, Sophie Evingar, at the beginning of October. Tim Ferrero, who has been working for the trust some years now, will be helping alongside the project as Marine Conservation Lead.
If you would like to find out more about the project or would like to volunteer, please email Emily on firstname.lastname@example.org.