Somerset Nature Connections

Nature and Wellbeing

Somerset Nature Connections

Matt Sweeting

Somerset Nature Connections

Somerset Nature Connections project aims to tackle some of the barriers that prevent people experiencing the health and wellbeing benefits of Somerset’s spectacular natural environment. Somerset Nature Connections will help people to access these natural spaces, with a focus on supporting mental wellbeing and physical activity.

Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, the partnership project with the Somerset Wildlife Trust, Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Blackdown Hills AONBs (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) will support local communities and individuals most vulnerable to mental health issues, providing better access to nature spaces to encourage and increase self-management for individuals, and develop a network of skilled volunteers who can support communities for the longer term.

WildNet - Matthew Roberts

FREE Nature and Wellbeing Course in the Quantocks AONB

This 6 week course will be running weekly on a Tuesday from 14th September until 19th October from 10am until 2.30pm. Sessions will be held at The Woodland Play Centre, Crowcombe. 

We'll explore the 5 Pathways to Nature Connectedness; these are: contact, beauty, emotion, compassion and meaning. 

This course is for you if you are feeling socially isolated and/or are experiencing mild to moderate depression, low mood, anxiety or stress. All activities have been fully Covid risk assessed and group sizes will be limited.

Email to book your place

Young woman enjoys being outside in the sun, sat in a meadow

Young woman enjoys being outside in the sun, sat in a meadow - Matthew Roberts

FREE Nature and Wellbeing Course in the Mendips AONB

This 6 week course will be running weekly on a Wednesday from 15th September until 20th October from 10am until 2.30pm. Sessions will be held at A Patch Wilder, Shipham Rd, Winscombe BS25 1RQ. 

We'll explore the 5 Pathways to Nature Connectedness; these are: contact, beauty, emotion, compassion and meaning. 

This course is for you if you are feeling socially isolated and/or are experiencing mild to moderate depression, low mood, anxiety or stress. All activities have been fully Covid risk assessed and group sizes will be limited. 

Email to book your place

Man looking through binoculars

WildNet - Matthew Roberts

FREE Nature and Wellbeing Course in the Blackdowns AONB

This 6 week course will be running weekly on a Thursday from 16th September until 21st October from 10am until 2.30pm. Sessions will be held at Park Farm, Voxmoor, Wellington TA21 9NP

We'll explore the 5 Pathways to Nature Connectedness; these are: contact, beauty, emotion, compassion and meaning. 

This course is for you if you are feeling socially isolated and/or are experiencing mild to moderate depression, low mood, anxiety or stress. All activities have been fully Covid risk assessed and group sizes will be limited. 

Email to book your place

Key project activity

Small Group Programme of Outdoor Activity

Following mental health support training by MIND in Somerset, project officers will run a small group programme in outdoor locations to build people’s capacity to more effectively self-manage their mental health. Our sessions will build on the Five Pathways to Nature Connectedness: contact, beauty, emotion, compassion and meaning.

Each year, Somerset Nature Connections will run six, 18-week programmes, delivered in 6-week blocks. People experiencing mental health issues will be referred by health and wellbeing partners or self-refer. Each week, participants will attend for half a day, benefitting from practical, outdoor activities, including conservation tasks, wildlife walks and natural crafts, adapted to the needs of each group. Participants will work together in small groups, for mutual support and to enable longer-term relationships to develop. Each 18-week programme will have 6 attendees (obviously Covid-19 dependant).

Recruit and train 30 participants as volunteers

To maximise programme accessibility, we will recruit and train 30 participants as volunteers. Some will provide peer support to those who are more severely isolated and need extra help to attend our activities and to support subsequent access to other volunteering opportunities beyond their involvement in our project sessions. To ensure volunteers have the necessary skills they will receive peer support training provided by Chard WATCH.

Others will volunteer to help and support local community groups or existing volunteer groups. The project will support volunteers to gain qualifications to supporting them to lead activities beyond the three years of the project.

Upskilling and improving confidence of Community Groups

Alongside the 18-week programmes, we will work with existing local community groups, supporting people with, or at higher risk of developing mental health problems. These may include working with groups supporting adults with learning disabilities, those with long term health conditions, carers and isolated older people.

At each group, Project Officers will work alongside group leaders to provide a structured, purposeful outdoor programme of sessions to improve people’s ability to self-manage their mental health, adapted to participants’ needs. Sessions will cover the health and wellbeing benefits of local natural environments and health and safety practicalities, as well as outdoor activities. In addition to reducing the chances of people developing mental health issues, this will increase group leaders’ knowledge and skills to deliver outdoor wellbeing-enhancing activities in future years, with help and support from one of Somerset Nature Connections’ volunteers, if needed.

More information

This project will work with communities affected by high levels of deprivation and social isolation. Due to the scale of the project it will look to target those communities where the activities will have greatest positive impact. The project will link these communities with greenspace, both local to them and also to the high value natural environment in the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It is envisaged that the AONB teams will work with their ‘local’ urban communities for example Quantock Hills AONB will work with communities from Priorswood, Hamp and Sydenham.

Get in touch

Find out more about the project and get in touch with the Somerset Nature Connections team by emailing snc@somersetwildlife.org

The project will be working closely with mental health charities Mind and Chard WATCH. Significant funding has been received from Hinkley Point C Community Impact Mitigation (CIM) Fund and Somerset County Council. Further financial support from other funders is currently being finalised.

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