The end of June saw JUST Lincolnshire run the Freedom Trail Project in conjunction with our friends at Hill Holt Wood. Over the three days, a wonderful time was had by all and a couple of our volunteers wroth these reports.

‘The Freedom Trail’ was created by JUST Lincolnshire and Hill Holt Wood to celebrate diversity, equality and human rights. Each ‘Pod’ was an activity designed to highlight and tackle an issue in an engaging way and they all proved to be a hit. Like many volunteers of JUST Lincolnshire, I jumped at the chance to help out at such a large and interesting event.

The whole team started off with high hopes as they walked around the woods to finalise the trail and the feeling carried on to the Wednesday morning, the very first day of ‘The Freedom Trail’. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to interfere with our plans a little. While it started off as a light drizzle the wind and rain decided to grace us with their presence after lunch. I was amazed at how much the groups of visitors stuck in and made the most of the day. The Bug Hotel was surrounded by screams of disgust and delight as hands were stuck into the mud and deep into piles of wet leaves. Even through the rain, the Bug Hotel was filled up with straw, leaves, sticks and mud. While it certainly was a fun exercise, it reminded the groups of how many creatures can live in one area and that a sense of community is important.

The Migration Pod was huddled around as the rain continued but everyone enjoyed learning about historic human migration and comparing it with birds, showing that migration is natural and should lose its stigma.

Thursday thankfully was gifted with sunnier weather and it was fun watching another group react differently to the activities compared to the ones the day before. For instance, in the Rhubarb Theatre the audience acted as the Jury for different scenarios and as my previous group was a little older their decisions were slightly different. The plays explored the Charter of the Forest, Religious Persecution and the Suffragettes.

Most groups opted to follow their morals and not the outdated law, however, when one of the defendants was violent there was a difference in opinion whether they should go free or not. One little boy stated “violence is never the answer” and while this is certainly true it was interesting how the older children would question why the defendant went to such extreme methods. Each Pod was designed to challenge the ways people think about certain aspects of life, everybody reacted differently to this and while some individuals found it difficult to think about their own identity some had no problems listing what makes them unique.

Friday was also a beautiful day with a favourite Pod emerging. Everyone, any age, loved learning about the Charter of the Forest and pretending to be peasants. The Pod was a particularly rowdy one with people screaming “we are revolting!”, the students answered questions on humans rights to enter a castle and cook some ‘peasant bread’. It was actually quite tasty. By Friday the Bug Hotel looked great and the Thatching Pod that focused on equality was starting to look like a real roof.

I had a wonderful time helping out at the event and I hope that ‘The Freedom Trail’ leaves a legacy of acceptance and open-mindedness and everyone at JUST Lincolnshire hopes we can make it even better next year. The feedback was lovely to read through and I wish that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. We have had many photos back from the trees that were given out at the end of the day, hopefully, they will remind people of ‘The Freedom Trail’ and how important equality is.

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