Woodland Wellbeing

Woodland Wellbeing

Central to our ethos is to benefit peoples' health and wellbeing through woodland activities, tailored to need. We run successful projects for a range of groups, applying and developing best practice in this field.

Our Woodland Wellbeing programme draws upon 7 years of practice and applies the principles of Forest School to deliver outdoor activity programmes tailored to the needs of groups including: adults with learning disabilities; people with mental health needs; people living with dementia; and young people with mental & physical needs.

Our activities are delivered by Health & Wellbeing Officer: Nicola Ramsden, working with skilled Associate Rachel Tomlinson and/or trained volunteers. We can offer 6, 8, 12 & 16 week programmes and ‘taster days’.

Recent projects include:

Woodland Management at Splatts Abbey Wood, funded by Redcliffe Homes through the Quartet Foundation

6 week project coppicing hazel and making dead hedges at Splatts Abbey Wood in accordance with the Conservation Management Plan. A total of 11 people with learning difficulties from Bristol Community Links and City of Bristol College attended, learnt practical conservation methods, became skilled at using a range of handtools, enjoyed cooking snacks over the fire and made some woodland items like twig pencils to take home. The Management Committee were extremely pleased with the amount of work done, which should result in more displays of spring flowers and improved habitat for invertebrates, birds and small mammals.

'Woodland Winter Warmer' at Bayes (Brown Rock) Wood, Tickenham

An 8 week project working with 'Off the Record' involving young people aged 16-25 in exploring a new woodland, learning about wildlife and participating in woodland arts and crafts, funded by the Nisbet Charitable Trust. Participants have been experiencing the outdoors in all weathers, including snow! and have really enjoyed seeing the spring gradually arriving in the woodland. Popular activities so far have included making hazel mallets, using natural dyes to colour wool fleece and transforming this into felted sitmats. Huge thanks to Adrian Brooks who has let us use his beautiful woodland for this project and has also allowed the group to feed his pigs and sheep, another highlight for the young people every week.

'Forest Fridays' at Manor Wood, Bishopsworth

6 week coppicing and path clearance project, opening up a very overgrown part of the wood and constructing deadhedges with coppice materials. Participants were referred to the project from Bristol Community Rehabilitation Service, part of Bristol Mental Health. Seven people attended over the course of the project and we understand that at least two are intending to continue working as volunteers, either at Manor Woods or other wildlife projects in Bristol. We are also delighted that one of the participants in our Autumn 2017 'Forest Fridays' project found it so helpful in her recovery that she is now a long term volunteer for the Forest of Avon Trust. 

'Woodland Wellbeing for People with Dementia', Conham & Kings Weston

This project for people with dementia and their carers has gone from strength to strength since the pilot project in Autumn 2016. Starting in March this year, we will now have 2 groups meeting on alternate weeks, one in south Bristol and one in north Bristol, throughout the year. Both groups are extremely popular and we are developing a waiting list. As well as our regular woodland walks and hot drinks around the fire, so far this year we’ve been learning to recognise birdsong, decorated eggs with natural dyes and made wild garlic bread.

To find out more about our Woodland Wellbeing projects and/or to discuss a new project, please email Nicola atwellbeing@forestofavontrust.org

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