Manchester residents have learnt how to get the most from nature by using everyday technology like mobile phone and tablets.

At a free event in Crumpsall Park last week, experts from Manchester Adult Education Service introduced local people to birdsong and tree identification apps, demonstrated how to take great digital photographs and showed how to find the best nature spots in the local area.

The free Digital Nature event was part of First Time for Everything, a programme designed by Royal Voluntary Service to support health and wellbeing, and supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. First Time for Everything gives people, particularly those that are older or less mobile, opportunities to try new activities in their local community for free.

The First Time for Everything programme launched in 2017. Since then, and thanks to support from Royal Voluntary Service volunteers, more than 500 First Time for Everything events have taken place across Great Britain. Over 5,000 people have come along to date to try new activities like yoga, paddle boarding and IT skills, British Sign Language, treetop trekking and pottery. According to a pre-pandemic participant survey, 93% of respondents said they felt happier after attending a First Time for Everything event and 75% felt more connected to their local community.

Laura Chow, Head of Charities, People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Staying active and connected to our local community are vitally important to our wellbeing, whatever our age, mobility or circumstances. First Time for Everything is a wonderful way for local people to come together to try something new and have fun. We all need that at the moment and I’m pleased that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting the programme.”

According to new research by Royal Voluntary Service and supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, more than one in four people (28%) aged 55 and over haven’t been able to do any of the things they enjoy doing during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Half are looking forward to getting out and about and seeing people as restrictions ease.

Gillian Allen attended the First Time for Everything Digital Nature session. She said: “I enjoyed this afternoon’s activities on how to use PlantNet and BirdNET. I will definitely be using these apps on my walks in future.”

Karen Kennedy, Royal Voluntary Service activity co-ordinator for Manchester, said: “It was wonderful to see so many people enjoying our Digital Nature event in Crumpsall Park. Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we’ll be offering a wide range of exciting First Time for Everything activities each month at different locations around Manchester.”

The next First Time for Everything event in Manchester will be Tai Chi on 18 August at 2-4pm at Clowes Park in Salford.


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