Wellbeing project encourages people to experience benefits of outdoors

We’ve launched an innovative new pilot programme to offer outdoor nature therapy to adults in Falkirk along the town’s canals and surrounding greenspace, in partnership with NHS Forth Valley.

Nature Walks for Wellbeing, funded by The Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, is a unique programme of green exercise, health walks and nature-based therapy activities aimed at helping adults who are living with poor mental health, and may be experiencing exclusion and isolation.

The programme builds upon our Nature Walks for Wellbeing in the Highlands, which has successfully been helping people realise the benefits of the natural world to support mental health improvement since 2014.

The two, 10 week-long pilot programmes, aim to improve community health and wellbeing through a vibrant range of activities including sensory explorations, mindful discovery, natural history learning and outdoor physical activity such as yoga.

Using an innovative blend of physical, mindful and social activities, participants, who are referred onto the programme through the Woodlands Resource Centre in Falkirk Community Hospital, will also get to try new experiences and learn new skills.

Led by NHS clinical staff and one of our Community Engagement Officers, Nature Walks for Wellbeing are delivered in hour-and-a-half long, weekly sessions which enhance mood and self-esteem and provide a wide range of physical and mental health benefits, along with reducing social isolation.

Claire Martin, Community Engagement Officer at Scottish Waterways Trust, said:

We’re delighted to be able to bring our Nature Walks for Wellbeing project to Falkirk, as an inclusive, non-stigmatising programme for local people in the area living with poor mental health.

Spending time in the outdoors, getting active and gaining new experiences and skills helps people to improve their mental, physical and social wellbeing. The calming, peaceful environment of the Forth & Clyde and Union canals provides the perfect setting for people to explore and connect with nature, heritage and wildlife.

We know from our successful programme in the Highlands that this nature connection paired with physical and mindful activity in a group setting makes a genuine difference to people’s health, while also combatting exclusion and social isolation.

Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director of Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, said:

Nature Walks for Wellbeing was a perfect fit for the Institute’s Catalysts for Change programme of funding which supports projects aimed at reducing health inequalities and improving health and wellbeing.

We very much look forward to supporting this venture and hearing the stories of how being outdoors feels to those involved.

In total 30 people are set to benefit from the initial pilot programme in Falkirk. We are fundraising to continue the project once the pilot programmes have ended.

If you are a health practitioner and would like more information please contact Claire on claire@scottishwaterwaystrust.org.uk or 07584 385 043.