About Us

Project: WILD C.I.C. is a not-for-profit social enterprise dedicated to addressing declining biodiversity and mental illness in young people. We do this by engaging young people with the natural world on their doorstep.

Our Story

My childhood was dominated by nature. Being born in 1995 and having parents that were slower than most to give into my pleas for new technologies, I was lucky to spend much of my childhood out in the fields and woods of rural Suffolk, tracking deer and catching grass snakes. These days it’s hard to imagine a childhood that isn’t dominated by social media, smart phones and games consoles, but that was my childhood. I was extremely happy, and I give a lot of credit to the amount of time that I was able to spend in nature. 

I enjoyed the great outdoors so much that I decided to go to the University of York to study Biology. It was whilst at university in 2015 that I had the idea to create a wildlife series for YouTube called Project: WILD, a series all about the weird and wonderful wildlife that the UK has to offer. I, and almost 30 other young people who were passionate about the environment, wanted to show the world that the UK was full of underrepresented, amazing wildlife. Sadly, whilst much of this content was filmed in the summer of 2016, I had no idea that I would be going into my hardest year yet. 2016/17 was my final year of university, and that meant the editing of this footage had to be shelved while we all dealt with many more essays, deadlines and exams. However, my biggest challenge was with my mental health. Issues such as anxiety and depression plague many young people, but at the time I struggled to admit that I was one of them. How could I, with such a happy childhood and optimistic future be feeling this way? My denial meant I never sought any professional help and this trapped me in a downward spiral.

After graduating university, I was still struggling with my mental health. Project: WILD officially became Project: WILD C.I.C. (Community Interest Company) in 2017 however it sat dormant for many months. I started managing the reptile surveys at two sites in the UK and with them I noticed my mood improving, the cloud of depression and anxiety lifting, and the penny dropped. Spending more time in nature, doing what I loved, away from screens and social media was drastically improving my mental health. In 2018 we started running workshops through Project: WILD C.I.C. at local nature sites, schools and youth groups, aiming to educate young people about the importance of their local environment. We hope to inspire a generation to appreciate, understand, and protect nature, both for their health and the health of our planet. As a not-for-profit social enterprise dedicated to tackling the decline of biodiversity and providing mental health support, the scope of Project: WILD C.I.C. is huge; for environment, for wellbeing and for future.

 

Nicholas Atherton
Chairman

What We Do

Project: WILD C.I.C. has its Fangs in four primary areas of operation: addressing declining biodiversity; engaging young people with local wild spaces; youth and adult education and training; and mental health support. We do this through a variety of services, offering:

 

  • A range of different activities and workshops for schools and youth groups from wildlife experiences, life science national curriculum lessons and sensory nature exploration sessions for young people living with sensory impairments and learning disabilities.
  • Ecological surveys at several sites across the UK, monitoring populations of some of our most neglected species.
  • Training courses offering everything from digital marketing and content production to habitat management and environmental conservation.
  • Utilising all aspects of our work to tackle mental health, isolation and social problems by targeting our projects at those people and places most in need.

Meet the Team

Nicholas Atherton

Appointed Chair

“To get an idea of who I am, think of that person whose eccentricities made them weird at school but makes them interesting as an adult (or so I like to think!). I took it a step further and turned those eccentricities and passions into a business in the form of Project: WILD C.I.C. I’m a film maker, educator, biologist, mental health support worker, community activist and all-around wildlife and conservation enthusiast. If you work with Project: WILD C.I.C. or receive any service from our team, it is likely to be me you’ll be dealing with. Lucky you!”

Jessica Atherton 

Director

“My name is Jessica and I’m one of the directors for Project: WILD C.I.C. I am a mathematician currently working for DEFRA and I have a particular interest in marine physics. I live in Leicestershire with my lurcher Molly, and my partner, Tom. I’ve spent lockdown walking, doing jigsaws and drinking far too much tea – but that’s not much different to my pre-lockdown life!”

Andrew Firth 

Director

 

“I have been a director at Project: WILD C.I.C. since August 2017 and have had the pleasure of knowing Nick from childhood. I assist with the undertaking of reptile surveys, fundraising and as a sounding board for new ideas and projects. I am originally from rural Suffolk, but I am currently working as a full-time planning officer in Worcestershire where I assist in the delivery of sustainable development. I am proud to be a part of the Project: WILD team as it seeks to engage more young people with the natural world.”

Our Volunteers

Our team of more than 20 committed, brilliant and generous volunteers are essential to keeping the wheels turning! As a not-for-profit organisation, without volunteer efforts the projects we run, services we deliver, and our ambitions to grow and reach more people would grind to a halt. Our Volunteers help run all our projects, design activities, organise environmental surveys, manage our online presence and much much more! The one commonality with all our volunteers is a huge love for nature and a passion for improving mental health and wellbeing. If you think you would be an asset to our team, get in touch and see how you can help us inspire a generation of thoughtful conservationists!

Our Benefactors

Private Supporters

We are incredibly grateful to all individuals that support the work we do at Project: WILD C.I.C. but we would like to especially acknowledge Colin Lindsay, a regular benefactor and a kind and generous supporter of our projects and our team. Among many other projects, his generosity has allowed our excellent volunteer team to continue working during the pandemic, prepare ourselves for further lockdowns and launch this website. As a colleague and friend of Mike Bates (pictured), the late grandfather to two of our Directors, Colin’s support is provided in honour of him.

 “Programs such as yours which focus on youth are dear to my heart – anything which can provide a modicum of interest and hope to young people whose prospects must sometimes look pretty grim during these difficult times is tremendously important. I had the great privilege and pleasure of being a colleague and friend of your Grandad, and that is also a great motivator for me.  Add to that, I really do like the sound of the programs that you are putting together.  I’m just glad that I’m able to support you in some way.”

– Colin Lindsay

Grant Funded

Many of our projects are Grant funded so we can provide them at no charge to the beneficiaries, making them as accessible and inclusive as possible. We subsidise the cost of some our projects through our own fundraising or with any profits we make from projects we are contracted to deliver. All profits made from our activities get reinvested back into the organisation, allowing us to continue delivering high quality projects at the lowest possible price.

We have received funding from the following organisations:

Our Partners

As a not-for-profit we are involved in many community networks, including the Selby District Equality Network, Anti-Poverty Partnership and Selby District Green Space Partnership. Collaboration is key to successful community support work. We are proud to say we are associated with the following organisations: