At BEC, we have a diverse property portfolio.

Offering a home for companies of two to 80 people (and more with building plots available) we operate commercial space in more than 10 buildings across four sites.

What unites all our sites is that they are filled with clever people doing clever things.

We have an ambition to see our sites become more community-orientated – just imagine what could be achieved if our clever tenants talked to their neighbours more?

Our most complex and disparate site is at Westlakes Science Park at Moor Row, near Whitehaven.

It offers a range of office and meeting space set in around 50 acres of land.

We have a number of initiatives to help encourage more chatter across the site that will come to fruition over the coming year – from providing better cafes to hosting events.

But one of the most powerful assets of the Westlakes site doesn’t come from what we can do inside our buildings – but what we have outside.

Acres of landscaped grounds surround Westlakes and our grounds maintenance team is busy improving the connecting footpaths and trails that weave across the site – making it faster or more enjoyable to get from A to B and offering up better spaces for collaborative powwows on foot.

This isn’t just something that fosters community between people already using the site, but for those who live nearby – our wider community and neighbours.

And one initiative that creates our strongest link ever between those who work on the site and those close by is our newly opened STEAM Trail.

Westlakes is now home to a new outdoor education activity for schools and public to boost understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) subjects.

In developing it we hope to have used our environment – from the natural landscape to the tenants on our park – to create a valuable, curriculum-focused destination for local schools, members of the public and young people who are home-schooled.

Featuring knowledge boards on topics ranging from photography to solar energy, together with a specialised app to encourage learning via digital platforms the activity blends outdoor education with digital learning.

In developing the trail, Lakes College students were able to benefit directly with a unique preview of the app and associated training session in digital skills.

We’ve designed it to give youngsters an understanding of how STEAM subjects are part of our daily lives and how they are represented within the organisations that are located at Westlakes and crucially, it encourages students to explore the integral links between the arts and traditionally promoted STEM subjects.

The trail was inspired by Cuthbert the Sheep, an original artwork that was painted and sponsored by children at St Cuthbert’s Primary School, and purchased by us as part of the Go Herdwick fundraising campaign for the Calvert Trust in 2016.

We have fantastic surroundings at Westlakes and have always been keen to make more of the paths and trails in the grounds with art installations.

Cuthbert was the first installation and her schoolchildren-led artwork of natural science prompted us to expand our plans for a nature trail into a STEAM trail to champion the importance of the arts and creativity mixed with STEM. Ultimately, we believe that tomorrow’s scientists and engineers who will work at Westlakes need creativity and artistic understanding to solve the challenges of tomorrow’s world.

Cuts to arts programmes in schools across the country are threatening this and we wanted to offer up a positive solution for our local children.

We’ve been overwhelmed at the positive response to our trail since the kids at Valley Primary School in Whitehaven joined us to formally open it in January, and we hope using our portfolio in this way will help bring our business, education and public communities together.

The development of the trail itself has been a real business and education community effort.

We’ve been lucky to be supported in the development of the trail by Sellafield, which helped with funding assistance and lent its support to help create a unique and inspiring asset, which complements school work by giving teacher and parents a different environment to reinforce curriculum learning through real world examples.

Local firm DesignCode worked with Rachel Suddart to develop the boards and the app was created by DesignWorks.

Development of the trail content has been further supported by the University of Manchester’s Dalton Cumbrian Facility, UCLan, Ellen Wildig, of Jacobs and Luke Richardson and Sarah Glass, of the Primary Business Partnership.

More information for the trail can be found at where the app and a dedicated classroom pack can be downloaded, complete with questions and discussion points to encourage independent thinking, debate and follow up activities back in the home or classroom.