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Hedgehog Friendly Campus: Leading the Charge for Inclusive Wildlife Conservation

What is Hedgehog Friendly Campus? 

Hedgehog Survey performed at Brooksby Melton College, with hedgehog prints!
Hedgehog Survey performed at Brooksby Melton College, with hedgehog prints!

Did you know that there's a groundswell of public support for our spiky friends, the hedgehogs? People are eager to lend a hand, but sometimes they're not sure where to start. That's where Hedgehog Friendly Campus steps in, offering a roadmap for universities, FE colleges, secondary, and primary schools to make a real difference for hedgehogs and wildlife right on their doorstep.  

Imagine a place where staff and students learn about hedgehogs and biodiversity and contribute to their protection. That's the vision behind Hedgehog Friendly Campus - it's about empowering people to become a beacon of positive change for our natural world. 

Hedgehog Friendly Campus is designed to achieve three big goals: protect biodiversity, enhance habitats, and educate staff and students on their own impacts. Think of it as a journey from Bronze to Platinum, it's like unlocking achievements in a game, but the rewards are healthier ecosystems and happier hedgehogs!  

Pupils at Thornton College placing a hedgehog house in their grounds.

Recent Developments in Our Work 

We're dedicated to creating a community-driven Hedgehog Friendly Campus programme, and your input is the cornerstone of this collaborative effort. Every year, we ask those of you who are taking part for your feedback on how we could continue to improve. Last year some of you highlighted the importance of inclusivity within our Hedgehog Friendly Campus programme, especially concerning individuals with visual impairments and different abilities, including physical disabilities. Your feedback has reminded us of the need to do better in ensuring that everyone feels included and empowered to participate in our initiatives. Everyone should feel able to contribute to supporting hedgehogs and other wildlife.  

Back in June 2023, members of our SOS-UK team initiated plans to collaborate with a couple of our established Hedgehog Friendly Campus college teams – The Sheffield College and National Star College. Our plans included delivering workshops at both colleges,  supporting students with special educational needs and disabilities to explore their preferences for engaging with nature.  

A key focus of these sessions was to identify any barriers that might hinder access to nature for students. This involved discussing the reasons behind any barriers, what specific challenges individuals encounter and exploring potential solutions to enhance their access and experiences in natural environments. 

Before proceeding with our plans to develop more inclusive activities, our first step was to raise £5,000 to bring our plans to life. This funding would ensure that we could deliver impactful and engaging sessions for individuals at both colleges. On 15th May 2023 we successfully raised enough to fund the workshops through public donations via the AVIVA Save our Wild Isles community fund. We are very grateful to everyone who donated.  

Delivered activities

In light of successfully raising the funds, in November 2023, we conducted 2 workshops at The Sheffield College and National Star College. The workshops were designed to engage participants in exploring their experiences and perceptions of nature through a series of interactive activities. We began each session with introductions to foster a welcoming environment and then moved on to the activities. 

The first activity focused on participants' experiences of nature. We provided postcard templates and asked them to show us their favourite parts of nature and the activities they enjoy when in natural settings. For example, walking in the local park to see birds or animals, planting flowers, going to the beach. This activity allowed participants to share their personal connections to the natural world through icons and text. 

Snapshot of an activity delivered at The Sheffield College.
Snapshot of a postcards template activity delivered at The Sheffield College.

Next, we delved into discussing barriers to taking part in nature-based activities. Using a "Talking Mat" tool, participants indicated whether they found certain activities easy or hard. This exercise aimed to uncover common challenges that some individuals face when engaging with nature and provided insights into areas where support or resources may be needed. 

Finally, we introduced the concept of creating a Hedgehog-Friendly Campus to promote wildlife conservation and interaction with nature. Participants were presented with various activities related to this initiative, such as conducting hedgehog surveys, building bug hotels, litter picking and planting wildlife friendly areas. They used postcard templates to indicate their interest level in each activity. 

See below to hear from students and staff involved speaking on their experience: 

I liked to be able to give my ideas about nature” 

- Student at National Star College. 

“It was great for our students to be asked for their opinions on nature and what they liked and disliked It was especially important that they were also given the opportunity and time to communicate what the barriers are for them to be able to go outside and enjoy and experience nature. What was very clear from the workshop was just how much our learners enjoy being outside. Following on from the workshop we have started to involve more students in our Hedgehog Friendly Campus activities. We are about to have a number of groups building on their communication and teamwork skills to do tunnel surveys on our campus. Thank you so much for your time. It was a really enjoyable afternoon”. 

- Staff member at National Star College.  

Snapshot of an activity delivered at The Sheffield College.
Snapshot of a talking mat activity delivered at The Sheffield College.

Lessons Learned and Next Steps  

Through our workshops, we've discovered significant insights into students' views on nature activities. Many students expressed that they avoid outdoor activities due to their dislike or fear of bugs, preferring indoor options that they can do both on campus and at home for convenience. Additionally, we observed that students who live farther away from natural spaces are less inclined to engage in outdoor activities. This observation highlights the impact of proximity to nature on students' participation levels. The distance from natural environments seems to influence their willingness or ability to engage in outdoor experiences, indicating that accessibility and proximity play a crucial role in shaping students' engagement with nature-related activities. We also found that students often required detailed information about an activity before deciding to participate, emphasizing the importance of providing clear and informative descriptions to encourage engagement and interest. 

These insights have led us to consider proposing an awareness and education programme that will increase young people’s confidence and connectedness to insects, which are a vital part of our natural world. We are also making significant changes and introducing new initiatives to improve our current practices. One major change involves dedicating more time to allow people to actively engage in activities and providing comprehensive information to enhance participant experiences. Looking forward to future projects, we are committed to a proactive approach. We will gather more information on requirements from SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) groups before project delivery. By doing so, we aim to tailor our projects more effectively to meet diverse needs, ensure inclusivity, and incorporate accessibility features from the initial planning stages. This approach will not only improve our project outcomes but also demonstrate our commitment to serving all participants and stakeholders inclusively and responsibly. 

As a neurodivergent individual, I believe that inclusion extends beyond accessibility; it's about embracing diverse perspectives to drive innovation and impactful experiences. I'm thrilled to be part of SOS-UK, a charity that champions inclusivity and values diverse viewpoints, resulting in truly transformative experiences just like this one.”

- Bethany Holmes, Project Manager & Coordinator at SOS-UK. 

Hedgehog Friendly Campus is delivered by SOS-UK and partially funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Together, we're building a movement that celebrates and encourages every step towards a hedgehog-friendly world. So, are you ready to join the Hedgehog Friendly Campus family? Sign up here or get in touch at

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