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Buglife's B-Lines will put a buzz back into Cheshire and Merseyside's Towns and countryside

BUGLIFE, with funding from Defra, launches an ambitious plan to help our bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other pollinating insects. Cheshire and Merseyside B-Lines aims to connect the county's best remaining wildlife sites through targeted wildflower habitat creation, linking the hills to the coast and Towns to the countryside. Buglife has worked with the Local Authorities and other partners to map out a network of potential wildflower habitat called:- 'B-Lines,' and are now inviting farmers, landowners and the public to get involved in creating new pollinator habitat, and practically restoring wildflower rich grasslands. Bees and other pollinators are disappearing from our countryside because of a lack of wildflower rich habitats. 3 million hectares, 97%, of the UK's wildflower rich grasslands have been lost since the 1930's. Creating pollinator habitat along B-Lines will help wildlife move across our countryside, saving threatened species and making sure that there are plenty of pollinators out there to help us grow crops and pollinate wildflowers. Cheshire and Merseyside are some of the counties recently mapped leading to the completion of the England B-lines network, enabling Buglife's vision of a river of wildflowers across the UK to be realised. The next step will be getting wildflower restoration and creation happening across the country.

Catherine Jones from Buglife said:- "B-Lines provide an exciting opportunity for everyone to support our struggling insect pollinators. By working together to create a network of wildflower rich habitats, we can support healthy populations of bees and other pollinators enabling them respond to threats such as climate change."

Ben Deed from Merseyside Biobank LRC said:- "Pollinators are an integral part of healthy ecosystem but many species are in serious decline due to a range of pressures but not least the fragmentation and loss of wildflower habitat, a particular issue in our City environment. By looking at the local evidence for pockets of species and habitat the B-Lines project offers a strategy that can be adopted by planners and conservationists alike and which we can use to join up and target new habitat creation and pollinator projects across the Region offering new corridors for species to move and re-populate areas where they have been in decline. These new B-Lines offer hope that we can bring together high level decision takers with real, practical action on the ground to give us the best chance of both reversing declines and create lasting resilient pollinator highways that become permanent and lasting features bringing life back into our human built environment."

Liverpool based arts organisation Collective Encounters launch Women in Action

LIVERPOOL based arts organisation Collective Encounters has just launched its latest project, Women in Action, which is still able to take place despite social distancing measures being in place. Women in Action will share, celebrate, harness and develop the role women in Merseyside play in supporting and nurturing their communities and also provide free, accredited training opportunities in digital creativity for women in Merseyside who have no previous experience of getting creative online.

Originally planned as a 2 ear programme of face to face workshops, events and training opportunities Collective Encounters has worked hard over the last two months to find ways for the project to take place online with limited social contact. The project's team has found ways to ensure the project can not only survive but also thrive using both digital and analogue interventions. A key driver in ensuring the programme can still happen has been the way women, and particularly women in areas of deprivation have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing measures.

Women in Action Project Manager, Tessa Buddle said:- "It has been essential to continue delivery of this project and use drama and creativity to develop confidence and reduce isolation of women during these challenging times. This project will not only offer support and develop opportunities to women, it will celebrate who they and are and what they do, and draw strength and inspiration from how local women have responded to the challenges of the past."

Women in Action is keen to hear from women who have been involved in both formal and informal community organising, now and in the past, to share their stories and inspire a new audio work and performance about women's activism. There are also opportunities for older women, with or without internet access, to take part in creative activities online, over the phone or through the post. Anyone with a story to share is encouraged to join the dedicated Facebook group (Women in Action Merseyside) or contact the company directly if you or someone you know might like to take part.

Alongside the gathering of the stories, Women in Action is running a free accredited training programme in digital creativity called Confidence through Creativity. Now open to applications Confidence through Creativity is for women over 19 who have not been in work, education or training for at least 6 months. It will be delivered via group sessions and individual mentoring. Free tablets can be provided to enable participation, and participants will be able to keep the tablet once they have completed the course.

Women in Action is funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, European Social Fund and Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services. The project is part of Collective Encounters' Social Distancing programme, launched in March 2020.

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