I’m not talking to you anymore, Mr Blackbird

23 June 2022

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.

At this time of the year, 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.

Yesterday 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 organisation? Are there any gaps? Do you need to take an annual walk around to ensure what you thought was protected actually is protected?

I recommend looking at our new safeguarding resource. As well as providing a checklist for essential and good safeguarding practices in your organisation, it contains links on:

  • How to write good safeguarding policies
  • Whistle-blowing procedures
  • Guidance on reporting safeguarding concerns
  • Guidance on handling safeguarding allegations in a charity
  • Training available from North Yorkshire’s Safeguarding Adults Board and Safeguarding Children Partnership plus other providers
  • Guidance for safer recruitment practices, including Community First Yorkshire’s DBS service
  • Information on equality, inclusivity and a culture of listening
  • Storing and sharing safeguarding information.

There is also an action plan to complete to record what you are doing well, areas for development and what actions you are going to take to ensure improve safeguarding in your organisation. I implore you, make sure your netting is secure!

Hilary Ashton, North Yorkshire Development Officer