The Laudato Si Centre works with schools and communities to educate about the ecological crisis and give practical tools for action to inspire hope for the future.  Aiming to give groups that visit the centre the agency for change and for them to leave with ideas on how they can make an improvement in their local area or at home.

Emily Cahill, Environment and Learning Officer at the Laudato Si’ Centre, provides an overview of the work and mission of the project…

The Laudato Si’ Centre is The Diocese of Salford’s response to the ecological crisis. Our centre is an environmental space for education and ecology through training, programmes and activity sessions focussed on learning, spirituality and well-being. At the heart of all we do is Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ message of Caring for our Common Home and how we bring that to life and make it real, not just for the people of the diocese, but all who want to visit our centre. We are open to all peoples, any age, any ability, any belief – for peoples of all faiths and none. We provide a space to heal and flourish to support human and spiritual renewal while demonstrating practical ways of living that better care for our common home and all creation.

Our mission is to provide the tools and learning needed to enable all to hear and respond to the cry of the earth and cry of the people, provoking an ecological conversion and to provide the tools and learning needed to enable all to hear and respond in hope to the cry of the earth and cry of the people.

We do this by educating people to work with nature, learn about regenerative living, giving people a space for spirituality, renewal and well-being of self, as well as a place to learn about social justice in action.  

We have worked with people, of all ages, from deprived areas of Manchester, people convicted of crimes, people recovering from addiction, people not given the opportunity to simply sit and be with nature, as well as school children from over 40 schools including those with additional needs.

We want all who visit to leave with a sense of hope and action. We can all make a positive contribution to caring for our Common Home, no matter where we live. We are here for all peoples, of all faiths and those who do not have a faith.  

The project started in 2019 (with some delays due to the disruption of Covid19) and the woodland opened in April 2023. We have received donations and funding from local and national groups and funds.

We develop and manage the land around the centre with care for creation at the heart of everything we do. We do not use any chemicals on the land or in our cleaning processes. We use peat-free vegan compost, have planted native trees and a biodiverse planting area. We have over 25 boxes for birds and bats in our woodland. Almost everything we have in our centre is repurposed, reused or made from recycled materials.

Bee sitting on lavendar

We have two main areas, a Walled Garden and a Woodland area. Within our accessible Walled Garden we have created an environmental learning centre where groups and individuals can visit and explore our permaculture forest garden.  We have organic fruit and nut trees, an edible walkway, medicinal herb spirals and pollinating plants to enrich biodiversity.  We also have an orchard planted by local schools and a Life for a Life Memorial Woodland nearby.  The memorial forest opened in 2019 and is maintained to support the natural environment, allowing wildlife and plant life to flourish.

Woodland Shelter

Through our programmes in 2024 our project has helped over 1300 people including 40 school visits, 400+ school age people, 600+ community visitors and 80+ parishioners.  

Activities and special events

We have a wealth of activities and days for all who visit. They can include but are not limited to:

Eco Sessions – taking place in the Walled Garden and Woodland, Eco Sessions inspire visitors with ways they can support nature to flourish at their school, parish or space and given them actions to reduce their environmental impact. We offer hands-on sessions, where visitors can learn practical skills to take back to help in their own environment. For example, we look at the carbon footprint of food, how we can support wildlife in different settings and create awareness for the rest of the community. Action planning activities can take place to support all visitors to create an action plan for the next steps for their group. 

Forest School sessions – We offer one-off sessions as well as bespoke, six-week programmes. This can be planned to visitors’ own specifications to meet the needs of the group. Activities include whittling, fire lighting, den building, shelter work, knot tying, tree identification and much more!

Retreats – Our retreats are inspired by nature, and we lead visitors through a retreat day to feel rested and spiritually renewed. We offer retreats to tie in with the liturgical year, environmental saints, sacramental programmes and feast days. We can also tailor retreats to suit themes of visitor’s choosing but always tying them back to ecology and supporting nature.

Liturgical sessions – At certain times of the year, we offer Stations of the Cross and Rosary sessions always with an ecological twist.

Interfaith gatherings – In our Woodland we have a special tree planted by a Greater Manchester interfaith delegation, who travelled to Rome to meet with Pope Francis. We host interfaith sessions during the year where we get together and share our knowledge and expertise and how our faith inspires us to care for our common home.

INSET sessions Staff and Governor training – Taking place at the centre or at their school, we offer Care for Creation training for Staff and / or Governors to support the development and implementation of group’s own environment strategies and activities. We can take groups through current issues and their impact on creation, curriculum and students, and can help groups as they develop and deliver their own action plans, including targeted advice for completing environmental audits.

Tours of the Laudato Si’ Centre – We offer tours to enable our visitors to take in the inspiring surroundings of our Walled Garden and Woodland area and find out more about what we do at the Laudato Si’ Centre to support nature and encourage ecological flourishing. We also plan bespoke days to meet the needs of any groups interested in coming to our centre.

Sessions to support Action Plans for your own parish or faith group environment –  If groups are not sure where to start with their environment, we help them with creating an action plan. We can give practical ideas and then upskill groups with hands-on sessions to help support their knowledge.  For groups already on the journey to care for creation, we support the groups with their next plans.

Raised flower bed

“We are very fortunate to have woodland and open space in which to create our Laudato Si Centre. It is our response to the urgent need to learn about the environment, the damage we are inflicting on our common home, and to demonstrate ways that are open to parish communities, schools, families and individuals to repair the damage and be guardians of the creation entrusted to us. Each and every one of us has our part to play and every action, however small, is important.” Bishop John Arnold, Diocese of Salford

The team at the Laudato Centre includes Bishop John Arnold, Diocese of Salford, Dr Emma Gardner, Head of Environment for the Diocese of Salford, Sarah Ducker, Gardener and Well-being Co-ordinator and me, Emily Cahill, Environment and Learning Officer.

The Laudato Si’ Centre is based at Wardley Hall, Worsley, Manchester, M28 2ND

X and Instagram: @laudatosicentre

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