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Nature therapy scheme aims to improve mental health

'Engaging with Nature' to run at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886633

Nature therapy scheme aims to improve mental health

THATCHAM’S Nature Discovery Centre (NDC) will play host to 15 people with mental health and wellbeing issues in a programme of 24-week free nature therapy sessions.

‘Engaging with Nature’ will see those taking part learn nature conservation skills including brush clearance and nature-based learning tasks, such as bird watching and wildlife identification.

There will also be lessons in craft and creative activities, den building, knot-craft and campfire cooking.

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is calling on volunteers to help with the project and says that in West Berkshire there are 4,000 people aged 18 to 74 who have mental health issues.

An evaluation carried out by the University of Essex found that the mental health wellbeing of more than two thirds of wildlife volunteers improved after just six weeks.

BBOWT’s community wildlife officer Jone Ayres said: “The Nature Discovery Centre remains a key place where people can spend time outdoors and experience the restorative powers of nature with other members of the community who understand what each other are going through.

“The sessions bring people together, engaging them with the rest of the group and with the natural world around them.

“They help people feel more valued and encourage them to open up and make deeper connections.

“Having 24-week programmes will mean we can develop a really strong sense of community between participants.” 

It follows a pilot scheme from 2017 in which those connected with the Newbury-based charity Eight Bells for Mental Health charity attended a 12-week project at the NDC, organised by BBOWT.

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