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Ponds

Ponds are defined as man-made or natural waterbodies between 1m square and 2ha in area that hold water for 4 months of the year or more (Pond Conservation Group, 1993).

Ponds support a wide range of plant and animal life. Whether they’re natural or man-made, these essential freshwater habitats support an incredible two-thirds of all freshwater species. Creating and restoring healthy ponds is one of the simplest and most effective ways to protect biodiversity.

Our plot has one main pond and several small ponds that we have restored or created.

What wildlife might visit or live in a pond?

One of the reasons that ponds are such rich habitats is because they provide a very natural type of habitat that has been around for millions of years. During this time, many species of plants and animals have become well-adapted to the conditions that they provide.

Invertebrates: A good pond might have over 100 of the larger invertebrate species (beetles, dragonflies, snails and caddisflies). Little is known about the number of micro-invertebrate animals that might live in a pond – such as water fleas and rotifers.

Added to this are many wetland invertebrates, particularly beetles, bugs and true flies, which live around the margins of ponds.

Amphibians: All of our native amphibians – frogs, toads and newts, are pond specialists and use these waterbodies as their main breeding habitat. Species, such as the Great Crested Newt and Natterjack Toad, are endangered species, so ponds are particularly important to help support them.

Reptiles: One of our native reptiles, the grass snake, also loves ponds, mainly because frogs are amongst its favourite foods.

Fish: Fish are a natural part of the fauna of some permanent ponds. Deeper ponds often support species such as Rudd, Perch and Pike, and even tiny ponds can support the Three-spined Stickleback.

Wetland plants: Most of Britain’s larger wetland plants (around 400 species) can be found in ponds, and some of the rarest depend more or less exclusively on them. About half of the most threatened wetland plants (e.g., those protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act) are found in ponds. There have not been studies to find out how many species of the smallest plants and algae are present in ponds, but there are undoubtedly many hundreds.

Birds: The birds most commonly associated with ponds are Mallard, Moorhens and Coots. However, ponds can attract many other species, including Waders, Greenshank and Redshank. Many birds, including Swallows and House Martins, hunt over ponds, picking off insects.

Mammals: Ponds can be an important habitat for wetland mammals, including Water Voles. Even Otters, normally associated with rivers, catch fish and amphibians at ponds. Bats, too, hunt around ponds and drink from them. Larger mammals, such as deer, foxes and badgers, use ponds as a watering hole.

(Freshwater Habitats Trust)

Creating and maintaining a pond

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and Freshwater Habitats Trust have written a great guide on creating, managing and problem-solving ponds – visit Creating Garden Ponds for Wildlife

Who we support

Our programmes support the emotional and mental wellbeing of young people, usually aged between 16 and 25. We run programmes specifically to support the young LGBTQ+ community for ages 11 to 15 and 16 to 25. Occasionally, we run programmes for particularly vulnerable groups, such as young people with mild to moderate learning disabilities or young carers.

Why it’s important

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the UK is in the grip of a mental health crisis with young people worst affected. NHS figures show that there has been a 50% rise over the last three years in the number of young people requiring mental health support. The NHS is overwhelmed, resulting in a quarter of a million children in the UK unable to get NHS help and an average waiting time of 21 weeks for a first appointment.

Our impact

The Wild Mind Project offers an alternative pathway for mental wellbeing.  Through nature connection, creativity and mindfulness, we increase young people’s sense of wellbeing, helping them to feel valued, optimistic and resilient. University College London evaluates our programmes and has found our data to show a consistent and significant increase in wellbeing for the young people who attend our programmes.

Meet the team

Directors, staff and volunteers at The Wild Mind Project share a belief that nature offers innumerable benefits for mental health. We have come together from diverse backgrounds with a broad range of expertise and lived experience, to support young people experiencing mental ill-health in the city of Brighton and Sussex.

CEO & FOUNDER

Berny Simcox (she/her)

An experienced charity CEO, Berny holds degrees in Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Sustainable Development. She has published academically on strategies for advancing sustainable development education and lectured on Sustainable Development and Wildlife Management & Conservation. Berny has a strong operational background and is also a qualified Mindfulness & Meditation Teacher and a Forest Bathing Guide.

DIRECTOR

Dave Frake (he/him)

Qualified as a PE teacher at Brighton University in 2006, Dave has specialist training in inclusive Outdoor Education. Currently head of ‘Adventure Education’ at Bowden House School, Dave works with students who have been excluded from mainstream education. Many have suffered lives of trauma, neglect and abuse, resulting in the students having a complex range of negative emotions. All students have SEN status. Ofsted has rated the care, teaching and learning at Bowden House school as ‘Outstanding’ for the past eight years. Activities include rock climbing, camping, forest school, bushcraft, outdoor survival, orienteering, hill walking, kayaking, paddle boarding and mindfulness. Dave brings his wealth of experience to the board.

FINANCE DIRECTOR

David A'Court (he/him)

Worked for a major bank in London and the South West until retirement. After retirement, David worked part-time as a finance officer for two environmental charities for over 12 years.  He has also held the post of Treasurer for a  health charity for over 25 years.

DIRECTOR

Luke Johnson (he/him)

Luke is a queer artist, facilitator and teacher with a love of the outdoors and a passion for sharing the benefits of nature and art with others.

Growing up as a trans kid in rural Sussex, Luke felt the positive effect of spending time outside, discovering how walking, gardening and exploring could help manage the stress and anxiety he was experiencing.

Arts and crafts also provided a way to relax and play. In his work as a facilitator, Luke helps create safe, supportive environments and encourages people to use art as a tool for experimentation and self-expression.

BUYER

James Simcox (he/him)

James originally studied Agriculture and farmed all around the world. On his return to the UK, James set up a number of businesses, including gift shops across London. He set up one of the first online shops at The Savoy Hotel. Today, James is the Buyer for our online shop, “Bon Feu”, and helps deliver programmes.

DOG

Willa (she/her)

More poodle than terrier, Willa brings her affection, enthusiasm and unrelenting energy to the project.