Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation has funded local community organisations Create Seven and Create Community to provide a wellbeing programme with a focus on nature.
The programme consists of four activities that people can access easily, such as an in-person workshop on Norton Common where people are encouraged to connect with nature and learn more about mindfulness. There is an online course to do from home or the office, a wellbeing nature trail with a map guide to do in your own time or with others, and a sensory walking guide which can be done from anywhere.
The nature focused group sessions started in August and are designed to help people rediscover the environment and become more aware of green space around them. The programme also promotes wellbeing, self-care and good mental health. The online course has the same focus but was created for those who are self-isolating or working from home and longing for a greater connection with the outdoors and others. The nature trail and sensory guides were created for longevity, so these can be revisited any time of the year and treasured for years to come.
The organisation’s founders Jill Chapman and Gary King approached the Heritage Foundation for a grant so they could set up the important programme. They were awarded £4,555 from the COVID Catalyst Grant fund to carry out their work which not only helps people connect with nature, but also helps attendees learn about how to look after themselves in these challenging times.
Psychologist and Create Seven Director Jill Chapman said: “The Create teams wanted to provide a range of activities the whole community can access that provide a real benefit to health and wellbeing while keeping people feeling connected, safe and well. Thanks to the funding from the Foundation we have been able to share all these activities free of charge, enabling everyone to access the experience and ensuring equality and inclusion in the offer.
“As adventurers and psychologists, we understand from science and research that being connected with nature has an immensely positive impact on people's health and wellbeing. We are passionate about sharing this and making it as accessible to as many people as possible. So many people have become aware of the wonder of nature for them during the lockdown, with more people than before out enjoying walks, cycles, runs etc for their daily activity. As things adjust back to a new normal, we encourage everyone to continue with these positive habits of nature connection. We are so lucky in our Garden City to have an abundance of nature here that is accessible to everyone to boost our wellbeing and improve our health.”
The programme is available to anyone who feels they may benefit from them and the outdoor sessions are running until November. Resources are available here and registration can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who complete the nature trail are also able to drop off their completed postcard entry to Letchworth Morrisons or North Herts Leisure Centre to receive a free pack of seeds or a free swim. Participants can also share their experience with the Create team and others by using the #wellnaturedherts on social media.