Please note if you are reading this, it was written in February 2019.

Doesn’t Warley Woods look beautiful today?

The photos on facebook tell us that day after day. But that is just the beautiful surface. Underneath the veneer of the Green Flag Awards and the UK’s Favourite Park banners we are struggling. We have been struggling all year and now we really need to ask for your help. This is not a general appeal, it is a crucial appeal, so please read on. We need you to understand how things really are. We feel like the saying about swans - beautiful on the surface, but underneath the legs are going like the clappers just to keep afloat.

How we manage money

Every year the Trustees agree a balanced budget, with the hope that things will go well and we will be able to put something into reserves (our savings). Budgets are monitored closely, we work on new income ideas. Those swans - Trustees, volunteers and staff work stoically to deliver our plans. We’ve been doing it for 15 years, but it just doesn't seem to be enough. Our savings are small and our liabilities are huge. This year we will be spending from our savings just to survive. This year we have had to spend £4,000 to rebuild the floor under the kitchen. Something which brings us no extra income in at all, as the café business is not ours. Our tree works bill has come in and it is £33,000 -  just to keep the Woods a safe place. We had £23,000 in the budget which we hoped was enough, but it isn't.  It costs us almost £7,000 a year just to empty the bins and people probably never think of this when they put their rubbish and dog poo into a bin in Warley Woods.

We have savings, and so the necessary things get done, but our situation is unsustainable and in a couple of years our hard earned savings will be gone. If that is the case, so will the Community Trust.

How people power has helped us in the past

People stepped up when the travellers invaded Warley Woods and they stepped up when all the rose garden benches were burnt and destroyed. This situation is just as real and actually more potentially damaging, but it is ongoing and largely invisible to someone walking the woods. I’m really not asking those who already give to give any more. Thank you, you already give whenever I ask. What I am asking is those who don’t yet give, but were able to give a small regular amount to decide to support your beautiful space today.

Warley Woods Community Trust isn’t trying to find a cure for cancer or poverty – we know it may seem a less important cause than some others, but we know that thousands of people use Warley Woods every day and they love it. If each of them just gave a small amount we could turn this around and become a thriving charity, not a struggling one.

Please become a regular donor right now and ask your friends and neighbours to do the same. Hand out membership leaflets to the people you see walking and enjoying the Woods. Help us make it normal to be a supporter of Warley Woods and not just something a few people do.

How lucky are we to have Warley Woods?

It is not a beautiful space by accident, it takes hard graft. People say they are lucky to have Warley Woods, but it isn't kept so lovely by luck. It can’t be sustained just by tombolas, plant sales and individuals picking up litter - while they play an important part.   The Trustees are about to decide on next year's budget, help them agree a budget that they can believe will work next year. Please help our volunteer and staff swans keep swimming. It is hard making it look good on the surface, while underneath things are so difficult.

We think we have asked politely hoping people will make the connections and decide to support the Trust, but I think now is the time to ask clearly and frankly. If you want Warley Woods to survive and thrive and to be maintained for you and future generations, then if you can, please start helping financially today.

Please support Warley Woods and its Trust with £5 or £10 a month. It's just 2p or 3p a day and together the lovely community around Warley Woods will make it a space they can continue to be proud of.

Thank you for reading and thank you in anticipation of your support.