Kings of the swingers maintain vital green spaces during lockdown
Together Housing Group’s team of arborists have kept the outdoor spaces across Yorkshire and Lancashire safe for others to enjoy.
Based in Blackburn but operating across Manchester, Rossendale, Pendle, Leeds, Huddersfield and Halifax, the team describe their role as social distancing at its finest. The team is led by Steve Greenwood, Director of Landscape and Estate Services at Together Housing Group’s social enterprise Newground.
He said: “During lockdown we’ve all come to think about the importance of nature, particularly as we’ve been able to spend time in the gardens, enjoy the parks and take in the nature around us. It’s been a positive boost to help with mental health and well-being.
“Our new Tree Care policy focuses on growing and maintaining our tree stock to support this and increase the habitat and conservation wildlife need to thrive.”
It’s been a difficult year. Steve has seen friends working in restaurants and bars placed on furlough while other friends in offices endured pay cuts.
He said: “The team here consider themselves lucky to practice a trade that, by its very nature, keeps them safe from crowds and contagion.”
It’s a job that many kids can only aspire to – getting paid to climb trees every day – but for one arborist for Together Housing Group, this dream is an everyday reality.
Darren Haig, 30, joined Together Housing Group as a street cleaning apprentice eight years ago before starting an apprenticeship in horticulture. From there he went on to become a fully qualified arborist.
He said: “The best thing about the job is I get to climb trees every day without getting told off! It is a good buzz being up in the trees, I completely zone out. There have been times for example when I’ve had toothache on the ground and as soon as I’m up in the trees, I’ve completely forgotten about the pain.”
An arborist’s work involves monitoring and treating trees to ensure they are safe, a task rendered increasingly challenging as new diseases threaten Britain’s ancient species.
Darren added: “It can be challenging because it is so unpredictable but that’s what I love about it. There is nothing generic about what I do – all trees are different.
“It’s a powerful feeling to know that I am conserving trees that will outlive me.”
A day in the life of an arborist is nearly always driven by the weather and being exposed to the elements is par for the course. While winter keeps Darren busy protecting life and property from trees uprooted in storms, in summer trees and shrubs need trimming and pruning. The arborist’s job is not just to cut down trees but also nurture them and grow them.
Lead Arborist Phil Cook added: “Our job is really where trees and people interact. It is hard, very hard, and exhausting work. You have to have good balance to do this. And keep fit. Stamina, practicality and initiative are also essential ingredients for the job.”