Woodland Wellbeing

Woodland Wellbeing

Reflecting the charity's commitment to the cause, we have piloted and developed woodland activities over the last 10 years, which directly benefit participants' health & wellbeing. We work with people with dementia & their carers; people with mental health needs; adults with learning difficulties; and young people with mental health and/ or behavioural needs.

Woodland Wellbeing Activities & Their Impact

Watch participants, support staff & commissioners talk about our work on a recent Woodland Wellbeing activity.

Why Support Woodland Wellbeing?

Watch Occupational Therapist Nicky Noble talk about the benefits of our work.

Our Woodland Wellbeing programme draws upon 10 years of practice and applies the principles of Forest School and the NHS' Five Ways to Wellbeing' to deliver woodland based activity programmes for groups in need. Each activity is tailored to reflect the needs and aspirations of those involved. 

Our activities are delivered by Health & Wellbeing Officer: Nicola Ramsden, working with skilled Associate Rachel Tomlinson and/or trained volunteers. 

Funding for Woodland Wellbeing projects comes from grant applications, contracts, donations and business sponsorship. Demand is growing, so with your help we can do even more. 

Recent projects include:

People Living with Dementia & Carers 

Woodland Wellbeing for People with Dementia: This project was first piloted in autumn 2016 and has progressively grown since then. In autumn 2018, out two groups continued to be popular with 10 people with dementia and 9 family members attending one or more sessions at Conham and 6 people with dementia and 3 family members coming to Kings Weston. Highlights included solving leaf jigsaw puzzles, roasting sweet chestnuts on the fire and making bamboo windchimes. We also organised 2 indoor winter craft sessions, where participants took part in a seasonal sensory quiz, made mini twig Christmas trees and shared festive snacks. A 2019 programme is now running, again in partnership with Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service. 

People With Mental Health Needs

Forest Fridays: This project has been running since 2017, although we have undertaken similar work since 2015. Participants are referred to it by the Bristol Community Rehabilitation Service, part of Bristol Mental Health. The first 8 week block of the year-long 2019 programme for people experiencing mental health problems is being held at Manor Woods, Bishopsworth. If focused on coppicing hazel, managing bramble and creating a clearing to encourage a more varied woodland structure and promote greater biodiversity. 12 people attended the sessions and as well as undertaking practical work, they cooked pancakes over the fire, learnt to identify different birds and made wild garlic pesto to take home; 

'Woodland Winter Warmer': 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. In winter 2017/18 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 sit-mats. 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.

Adults with Learning Difficulties

Woodland Wednesdays: We have been running activities for groups of adults with learning difficulties since 2011. This 6 week project involved 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 hand tools, 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.

To find out more about our Woodland Wellbeing projects, subscribe to the newsletter via the link below and if you want to discuss supporting a new project, please email Nicola atwellbeing@forestofavontrust.org

Woodland Wednesdays

Watch a video produced by charity Cintre.

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