Reflections on the Nature and Wellbeing project
For the last four and a half years I have had the pleasure of working on this absolute dream of a project. I have really enjoyed supporting these two sectors – health and nature/conservation – to come together, to learn from each other in order to develop nature-based health interventions that have encouraged people to manage their own wellbeing by connecting with natural environments locally to them.
“I come away feeling content and very happy, like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It’s given me confidence to do other things too – it’s acted like a snowball effect.” – quote from participant.
The overwhelmingly positive response we had from partners and participants has demonstrated the natural, intrinsic need people have to connect with nature, to help us feel our best. This project has allowed us to spend time encouraging partners in both sectors to continue to develop, shape and share this idea, inclusively, with communities in Somerset, focusing on reaching out to those who may struggle most to access such opportunities. In doing this, we are also encouraging people to spend more time outside, caring and giving back to natural environments and landscapes that are so important to our communities.
Across the three Somerset Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) – Blackdown Hills, Quantock Hills and Mendip Hills:
- 2345 people engaged in the project
- 216 people took part in formal training
- 515 sessions have taken place
- 10 volunteers have been regularly supporting the project
Many of the fantastic partners and volunteers we have worked with will continue to support projects developed during the last few years, which, in the Blackdown Hills AONB, includes our work with Greendays Day Care, the Alzheimer’s Society, Carry Me Kate, Young Carers and Chard WATCH.
Over the past year or so, the three AONBs worked with Somerset Wildlife Trust to develop a successful National Lottery bid to support a new Somerset Nature Connections project. After going through an external recruitment process, I am excited to say that I will be taking on the project manager role and have started work this month. This will enable me to continue to develop this work in Somerset alongside others within the vibrant and varied nature and wellbeing sector we are lucky to have here, providing even more opportunities for people to get involved and feel better.