As part of the established cultural exchange between the twinned cities of Carlisle, Slupsk and Flensburg, and working on behalf of Carlisle City Council, two Inspira leaders accompanied ten young people, aged 14-19, from the Carlisle area to Slupsk (6th-13th August 2018).

In a planned week of social, cultural and educational activities, which included spending a weekend with Polish families and visiting the beautiful city of Gdansk, thirty young people and their six leaders, lived, learned and worked together in a fun and exhilarating integration of the three nationalities.

The central focus of the week was a wildlife project entitled ‘To bee or not to bee’, learning about the environmental and lifestyle benefits of encouraging bees and insects to populate wild and cultivated outdoor spaces.

There were visits to the leafy ‘Hortulus’ parks and flower abundant gardens where this already takes place and to the ‘Krzemienica’ bee hive education centre where visitors can view or buy lots of home produced wax and honey products and view a live glass hive where you can see the bees coming in, laden with pollen, to do their busy honey production. No one was stung, fortunately, but did you know that there can be positive health benefits, including lowered blood pressure, from bee stings?

At the practical and creative end of the learning, young people got their hands dirty in the planting of a new garden, with bee friendly flowering plants, at one of the main secondary schools in Slupsk, attended by some of the Polish participants. Coached by wildlife experts on building habitats, the young people built colourful ‘insect hotels’ for the new garden, to encourage new insect residents and created a media campaign of posters and films to promote the concepts of the project. The new garden was officially opened in a celebration on the last day of the exchange when invited guests, including local dignitaries, visited the school to see first hand what the programme had delivered. There were tears on the last day when the Carlisle group had to depart, after making new friends and experiencing a truly rewarding week of positive and creative engagement with young people from other countries.

Chris Darrall from Inspira said, ‘To work collaboratively with young people from three nationalities, on a creative and worthwhile project, has been a truly uplifting and exhilarating experience for all involved.’

In the Photo L-R: Emilia Burbury and Hazel Burrow from the Carlisle group, planting a new garden.