Tell us about your organisation, how you started and what you do?

Established in 1977 as the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Centre, Wildside began life as a local authority facility providing outdoor activities to children from Wolverhampton. It became a charity – Wildside Activity Centre in 1996 but continued to receive funding from the local authority until 2014.

As a registered charity, Wildside’s mission is to provide enjoyment of the outdoors by offering adventurous and environmental activities, promoting health and wellbeing and an underlying appreciation of the natural world to the people and communities of Wolverhampton and surrounding areas.

Our philosophy is that we explore and enjoy the outdoors, providing opportunities for learning, challenge, health improvement and personal development. Throughout we try to foster respect for the environment, and seek to care for it, helping safeguard our planet for future generations.

What has been your greatest achievement?

It continues to be an advocate for looking after the environment – locally and globally, not only in its philosophy but also in its practice. It recently secured funding for a water source heat pump system which will enable the centre to produce its own carbon free energy at little or no financial or environmental cost.

We are also proud of the fact that we continue to reach out to groups suffering deprivation and social exclusion in the local neighbourhood and we strive to ensure that our centre and activities are as accessible as possible to all ages and all abilities.

What is your experience of support received from WVCA?

Wildside has enjoyed a long-standing and successful relationship with WVCA. The information it offers on funding sources, regulatory updates and signposting on to other agencies is incredibly helpful to a small charity such as Wildside.

It also provides a reliable ‘sounding board’ due to its experience and knowledge of the voluntary sector. Staff at WVCA have always been keen to assist with enquiries and are happy to undertake additional research if they do not have the answer to an enquiry immediately.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Wolverhampton?

The wonderful diversity of Wolverhampton is an incredible strength, however it brings its challenges to a small organisation such as Wildside as it needs to ensure it is constantly monitoring its services and activities to ensure they are accessible and meaningful to all communities.

We have found that people in Wolverhampton love to explore nature and are often pleasantly surprised when they come to Wildside for the first time and discover the incredible opportunities to engage with the nature that is right on their doorstep.

What are some of the challenges you face and how can WVCA help to support your organisation in the future?

Like so many other small charities, a huge challenge for Wildside is funding. We are totally reliant on finding and securing sources of funding that will enable us to continue offering our much-needed activities to the people of Wolverhampton. It often feels that a disproportionate amount of our time is spent trying to find the money to enable us to survive and so we hope that WVCA will continue to help with that burden by providing information on relevant sources of funding and ongoing support throughout the application process.

We will also continue to use the resources available through WVCA in terms of policy updates, guidelines on statutory regulations, recruitment and general third sector developments, as the provision of these valuable services remain a key factor in enabling a small team on limited resources to continue to operate successfully.

Where can we find out more?

Email: Mark Hand
Social Media: @WildsideAC
Address: Hordern Rd, Wolverhampton WV6 0HA
Telephone: 01902 754612

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