Improving mental health by supporting access to nature

1355218416
03 Sep 2013
by Graeme Green

The links between positive mental health and the great outdoors are well-known. Access to nature, whether it’s a walk in the countryside, a morning at an allotment, or an afternoon spent learning new skills, can provide vulnerable people with a powerful boost to their self-esteem, their confidence, and (ultimately) their health.

Framework’s Gateway to Nature scheme, established in 2010, recognised the significance of these links by offering a broad programme of physical, creative and educational activities to people who would otherwise be excluded from them.

Before I go on its worth exploring this point more closely. It’s easy to assume that a walk in the countryside, for example, is accessible to everyone, but this is simply not the case. 

Significant barriers, including: depression, isolation, lack of confidence, a lack of information and awareness, and poverty, often combine to exclude vulnerable people from the kinds of activates and experiences that many people take for granted.

Gateway to Nature is all about removing these barriers and providing access for all. The project, funded by Natural England, has helped hundreds of vulnerable people to experience new activities, learn new skills, and meet new friends. Above all it has helped them to improve their quality of life.

This video will give you a good idea of the kind of thing I am talking about.

video

As the initial three year funding for the project draws to a close, we are now seeking ways to continue just some of its good work in the community. In order to do this we need to raise a considerable amount of money – starting with a charity walk on Saturday.

Dozens of walkers, many of them beneficiaries of the Gateway to Nature Scheme, will set off on two routes (a six mile and ten mile jaunt along the The Big Track Nottingham City Council Canal and Riverside walking route) in a bid to raise as much sponsorship money as possible. Ideally we would like to raise around £15,000 over the next year to continue as much of this work as possible.

For more information on the walk and ways to get involved with Gateway to Nature please click here.

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