I’m not talking to you anymore, Mr Blackbird

10 January 2023

I have an allotment. I love my allotment; I was lucky enough to get it just before lockdown and it provided a great place to go when there was no-where to go. Being in the open air and close to nature after a day’s work is a brilliant way to relax and let my mind wander after hours of intense concentration.

In June, some of the birds get very brave and come close whilst I’m weeding to find bugs and worms for their young. Last week a blackbird came so close I grabbed a worm in my hand (gloves on!), held it out, and waited very patiently for it to come and take the worm out my hand. It hopped within inches a few times and fluttered away, but the third time he snatched it, flew a few yards away, pecked it once, then flew onto my strawberry patch, and you guessed it, ate my first ripe strawberry of the season!

I leapt up and scolded him as I would a naughty child. How dare he?! I’d just given him a lovely fat, juicy worm but he rejected that. Maybe, like most of us, he has a sweet tooth/beak. Needless to say, I immediately netted the strawberry bed.

The next day I went to the allotment and was passing the strawberry bed when I saw Mr Blackbird’s Mrs in the strawberry bed. I was incredulous! How did she get in there? I tried to un-net a section to allow her out but she squawked her way up to the other end of the bed and escaped though a tiny gap.

I thought I’d safeguarded my strawberries but it made me look afresh at my netting technique. I went round the bed tightening and weighing down the net so there were no gaps.

How are the safeguarding procedures in your Village Hall? Are there any gaps? Do you need to “tighten your nets” to ensure you are protecting those most vulnerable?

If you want to make sure your netting is secure, come along to our online Community Building and Village Hall network meeting on Wednesday 25 January 10am – 11:30am where we will be exploring what trustees should know and do regarding safeguarding in village halls. There will be a chance for you to ask questions and share good practice with others in a similar role .

I also recommend looking at our  safeguarding resource, which provides a checklist for essential and good safeguarding practices in your organisation.


Hilary Ashton, North Yorkshire Development Officer