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Nature reserve manager offers lockdown help to residents

Tuesday 21st April 2020 11:00

Karen Sutton holding two slow worms at Crossness Nature Reserve

A caring wildlife manager from Gillingham has been keeping busy supporting vulnerable Friends of Crossness Nature Reserve members during the coronavirus lockdown.

Karen Sutton runs Thames Water’s 50-hectare Crossness Nature Reserve, which is home to barn owls, kestrels and water voles in South East London. It has been shut since government lockdown measures were introduced last month.

More than 400 people are part of the Friends of Crossness group which enables members to access the reserve's protected wildlife areas next to the company’s sewage works. Many are local older residents who help to take care of the site, monitor wildlife and attend special events such as bat walks and bird ringing demonstrations.

While keeping up her duties maintaining the extensive marsh land and wildlife habitats, Karen has been regularly phoning Friends of Crossness members who are isolated or in vulnerable circumstances, who may need that extra support or friendly voice to keep them company.

As well as offering to help with groceries and errands, she has provided updates on the what’s happening at the reserve, which has recently seen the return of migrating birds and nesting barn owls.

Karen said: “Many of the Friends of Crossness members have been visiting the reserve for years and I’ve built up relationships with them. Some live alone or have caring duties and they see Crossness as a sanctuary where they can relax or keep in contact with people through the volunteering activities and nature events we organise.

“At this time of year, Spring is in the air and we’re seeing migrant birds returning and plenty of bees and butterflies out on the marsh. Where I can, I’m doing my bit to help our community at Crossness and I’m looking forward to having visitors and the Friends of Crossness back when the reserve can be safely reopened.”

Crossness Nature Reserve is home to the last remaining areas of grazing marsh land within the Greater London area.

More information about the Crossness Nature Reserve and our membership scheme.

More information about how to join Thames Water’s priority services register.

Thames Water has set up a dedicated coronavirus webpage where customers can find out how Thames Water is taking care of customers in vulnerable circumstances, as well as the full range of support options for those who need help paying their water bill.