A few members of the PHC Green Impact team recently decided to try and help the plight of our native hedgehog by installing a nesting box in St Sepulchre's Cemetery in Jericho. Green Impact member, Caroline Jordan, kindly donated the box to the department and talks to us about why we should all try to help these prickly creatures:
1. Thank you so much for your generous donation to the department. Why is it important that we help hedgehogs in the UK?
Hedgehogs are listed as "vulnerable" on Britain's red list of mammals; they are in serious decline. The number of hedgehogs have fallen by up to 50% in areas of Britain since the Millennium. Hedgehogs are a tiny, but important part of biodiversity and this is important in order to maintain stable ecosystems.
2. Why did you choose St Sepulchre's Cemetery as a place to put the box?
The Green Impact Team wanted to improve spaces in and around our dept. Jolanta at Eagle House alerted us to the cemetery as it is a local wildlife space and seemed the most suitable place. The cemetery is a managed place and the team there encourage wildlife. They have old trees left to rot for the benefit of birds, insects and fungi. They have many trees and ivy. We met a lovely couple when we went to the cemetery who are part of the management group; they told us about how they have left a nettle patch to encourage red admiral butterflies. We feel that we have made an important contact with the local community at the same time as helping the local hedgehogs.
3. What can we do at home to help hedgehogs?
It's not too late to help hedgehogs in your own garden/allotment and as they feast on slugs and snails, among other things, they will benefit the garden. I could list some things here, but the Wildlife Trust have an excellent handout here.
4. Can you recommend a good local wildlife charity that helps hedgehogs in need?
Check out this website - a wonderful woman who makes jewellery (Christmas presents?) and also runs a hedgehog hospital. Also, there is Tiggy Winkles, a more local charity and wildlife hospital.
5. You'll be retiring in December (the team will miss you very much!). What lovely things are you planning to do with your time and are you still hoping to help wildlife in need?
Well I'll certainly be gardening - our garden is only 3 years old and we started from scratch - it was just scrubland before that. We have an allotment next door, also scrubland prior to taking it on, and we're going to keep one area for wildlife. Our garden is full of pollinator friendly plants, but the wildlife corner will be left with nettles, native hedgerow plants and wild flowers. My husband is going to make a hedgehog box, but I think it'll take a while, so probably too late for this year's hibernating hedgehogs. We are very fortunate; we have hedgehogs and foxes regularly visiting and we also get a huge variety of birds on our feeders. We had a kestrel visit the garden this year - we often see it over the field at the back, but to see it sitting on our fence was a surprise. We also get owls because there are lots of mice and voles around. There are kites and deer quite close to us too.
I also enjoy painting, so I'll be taking photos of the wildlife and trying to paint what I've seen.
Thanks so much for your time, Caroline - the local wildlife is lucky to have you! Jolanta Parkinson, who is our Green Impact rep at Eagle House has very kindly offered to check in on the box during the autumn and winter and will also maintain the box over the year. Thank you Jolanta!
(Interview led by Charlotte Thompson-Grant, PHC Green Impact Lead. Our PHC greenies Caroline Jordan, Jolanta Parkinson and Charlotte Thompson-Grant were involved in this project and can be contacted if you have any questions).