Footprints in the Sand

The ‘Footprints in the Sand’ (FITS) partnership project was coordinated by the Thanet Coast Project and aimed to reach local people that do not normally access the internationally important coastline!

The project encouraged local people that may have barriers to access – such as those from deprived communities, from the very young to the old, or from different ethnic backgrounds or for those with disabilities. Some local people have mistakenly believed that the usual local publicly advertised events that attract thousands of people each year are not for them!

The Thanet Coast Project and FITS ran specific activities with local groups to engage and encourage local people to join in.

In particular, we wanted to:

  • help raise awareness and increase their knowledge of the Thanet Coast and North East Kent European marine sites (now the NE Kent MPA)
  • encourage health benefits
  • develop new skills, about the wildlife and natural features
  • so that we can all help look after the coast for future generations.

Project Aims:

  • encourage local communities to access and enjoy the Thanet Coast
  • local people to gain pride and ownership for their coastal heritage
  • develop interest in, raise knowledge and awareness of the wildlife and natural features
  • address health inequalities
  • increase participation
  • develop skills for conserving and interpreting Thanet’s coast

Priority community groups:

  • Economically disadvantaged groups – through events and activities to help interpret the internationally important wildlife of the NE Kent European Marine Site
  • Young people – providing learning opportunities in a fun way, such as toddler sessions; or family sessions; and through local school excursions for rocky shorelife safaris and beach cleans.
  • Disabled people, with physical and learning disabilities, will be provided with opportunities for learning about the Thanet Coast, supported by skilled helpers, and space for all abilities to explore.#
  • Older people with shorter walks, such as the health or Rock Doc walks
  • Young parents will be given help by experiencing the natural environment through events such as the Thornback Tales Eggcase Hunt stories, or within a new family safe zone – within a proposed new “Coastal Community Beach Hut
  • Dads form a socially excluded group and will be provided with weekend dads and lads events Communities suffering health deprivation – a new annual Fit & Healthy day on the beach will enable partners to contribute to getting people out and about – such as a ‘green gym’ volunteer task on the Sea Garden

The FITS project partnership was supported by £98k over three years by Natural England as part of its Access to Nature programme (funded by £25M from the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme).

The project officer worked 4 day week, based within the Thanet Coast Project, and voluntary and partnership ‘in-kind’ contributions contributed another £25,000.

The project managed by Thanet Council through a new project partnership of local organisations – commenced in 2011 and ran until 2014. The steering group partners included:

  • Kent County Council Children Centres in Thanet
  • Millmead Children’s Centre Partnership Ltd
  • Orbit South Housing Association
  • Kent Extended School Services
  • East Kent Mencap
  • NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent and East Kent
  • Natural England, and
  • Thanet District Council

The ‘Footprints in the Sand’ Business Plan 2011-13 (2,158KB, PDF)