Wiltshire Wildlife Trust: rebuilding connections through nature
Imogen Jackson, Wellbeing Programmes Lead, shares how Wiltshire Wildlife Trust are rebuilding connections through access to local green spaces and nature.
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
There is much evidence to suggest that our disconnection from each other stems from modern living. We are disconnected from each other, ourselves, and the natural world.
Here at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, we take groups of people living with social isolation and mental health problems out into nearby nature to help rebuild these connections. We visit local green spaces and once there, take time to just be, to check in with each other and with nature. We often practice a 5 or 10 minute ‘sit spot’, where we sit and observe the sights and sounds, truly paying attention to the natural world.
We also lead participants on wildlife walks, helping people to feel comfortable and welcome in these spaces. We make nature inspired crafts and engage in meaningful, practical conservation tasks which benefit local people and wildlife. This involves working in co-operation with each other, enabling a sense of community. It is easier to chat when working together on a project rather than sitting face to face.
The groups provide something for people to look forward to, where like-minded people will support and understand them. It is a non-judgemental space where people can learn new things and spend time outside. Favourite activities vary, but many enjoy foraging and cooking outdoors, or whittling a spoon from green wood.
Nature based therapy
Metaphors in nature abound. People readily relate to the strength of trees withstanding a gale as they stand alongside them, bracing against the wind; or reflect on their lives as they watch a river rushing past, with peaceful patches of calm just within reach; or broken reflections becoming whole as the wind dies down.
Nature based therapy enables people to take time out and feel less alone. They find the natural world is accepting of emotions. People who have been through trauma frequently find it easier to relate to a tree before they can re-engage with people. It is often easier for feelings to surface away from others, and nature can be an amazing source of comfort in times of loss.
Supported group time in nature can help people feel an improved sense of wellbeing and a real sense of belonging: much-needed senses in the modern world.
‘I am no more lonely than a single mullein or dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel, or a horse-fly, or a bumblebee. I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house.’
Visit Wiltshire Wildlife to learn more about their wellbeing programmes.