CEED was initially formed by Sunderland University students. These volunteers organised school and community ‘green fayres’ as well as undertaking voluntary practical conservation tasks throughout the local area. An early major success of CEED’s was the development of 1 hectare of derelict brownfield land into Sunderland’s first urban nature space. Created and used by local volunteers and schools, the skills and knowledge gained from the nature space also formed the basis of international exchanges to share best practice with Polish NGO’s.
From being an entirely volunteer run organisation CEED created paid staff posts. Volunteers are still an extremely vital part of CEED, both through the executive committee and as volunteers who work on CEED’s practical projects.