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People living with mental health challenges in Nottingham will be supported by a pioneering new project to engage with the history and heritage of their communities.

Nature in Mind, an innovative eco-therapy programme operated by Framework, has received a grant of £79,700 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to expand upon its existing work supporting people to access heritage and the natural world.

The new programme, due to begin on April 1, has been funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, which distributes a share of National Lottery funding to projects that create positive and lasting change for people and communities.

It will support an often excluded group of people to visit sites of local interest, take part in heritage walks, and engage with local conservation projects. In particular, beneficiaries will visit and participate in conservation work at a number of local sites with a variety of official heritage recognitions. Sites will include historic buildings, former mines, canals and rivers, former gravel pits, allotments and other green spaces. For example, Southwell Minster, Attenborough Nature Reserve, Sherwood Forest, Newstead Abbey and many other places.

The St Ann’s Allotments will be a main focus of the project. These are the oldest and largest area of Victorian detached town gardens in the world and are listed Grade II* by English Heritage. Nature in Mind will contribute to the ongoing preservation of this important site by conserving and developing two of these plots.

Carl Colton, Nature in Mind Service Manager, said:

“People living with mental health issues can often feel very isolated from the community around them – as they may not have the financial means or the self-esteem to engage with or learn more about the area in which they live. This new initiative will support people to overcome feelings of social isolation by supporting them to engage with the history and heritage of their communities.”

“Visits to local historical sites are routine for many of us – allowing us to feel part of where we live and giving us a greater sense of local identity. We are excited by the opportunity to support people who would otherwise miss out to enjoy these enriching experiences. Our thanks go to National Lottery players who made this expansion to our work possible.”

Working with heritage professionals from around the region, the project will focus on exploring the growth, demise and regeneration of significant natural and historic community spaces dating back to the 18th century. Nature in Mind will enable a wider range of people to access and understand heritage – equipping them with the skills and inspiring the motivation to preserve it.