Funding secured for ‘Wild about wellbeing’ programme

Geraldine Keita/ May 8, 2018/ Funding/ 0 comments

Great news for young people in the Scottish Borders. Nature Unlimited have been awarded £33,688, to fund our Wild About Wellbeing programme, by the People’s Project lottery fund. We fought off stiff completion to become one of only 100 finalists from thousands of applicants and were delighted to hear, yesterday that our project was one of only 60 winners across the UK.

The Wild About Wellbeing programme is a unique early intervention for young people suffering from, or at risk of developing, mental health issues. We create a community for well-being, in a natural woodland setting, where the young people feel safe and where they engage in various activities, while building their social skills, their emotional intelligence and their physical skills. The high staff to participant ratio enables one to one support, when necessary, to build confidence, self-esteem and to encourage discussion and reflection. The girls are supported to become more resilient mentally, emotionally and physically, and are able to transfer these skills to everyday life so that they can face adversity with a more positive and confident attitude.

The aim of the programme is to increase young people’s wellbeing, through supporting them to build confidence, resilience and to be better able to manage relationships. Once a week groups of young people will come to the woods: a safe place to be themselves, to form new friendship bonds and strengthen existing ones. They will be supported to develop their emotional intelligence and to communicate openly, while participating in nature connection activities ranging from pond dipping, tree climbing, bushcraft skills and cooking on the fire to chilling out in hammocks and everything else in between. They learn to tie knots and put up shelters, as well as foraging for wild food. They work as a team and choose what they want to do each week – the element of choice gives them control in a world where they are often disempowered.

The outcomes of our pilot project last year were increased confidence, resilience and independence for all of the participants as well as improved attendance at school. An unforeseen consequence of the programme was that the young people now spend less time on screens and more time outdoors. Given the mounting research showing a correlation between social media use and depression, this is a very positive outcome.

Jan Barr, Project Coordinator at Nature Unlimited said “We are delighted that we’ll be able to give much needed support to many more young people in the Borders. We hope that this funding will also lead to wider recognition of the impact of our work so that it can be sustainably funded in the future.”

Participants will be referred to the programme by schools and will begin next academic year. The funding is currently available for Peebles High School, Galashiels Academy and Hawick High School.

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