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By the time the Making Local Woods Work team arrived at Tickenham Village Hall before 9am last Thursday the whole place was a hive of activity. Adrian Brooks and his team from Brown Rock Woodlands, our hosts for the day, had prepared the room, stacked high the morning pastries and were preparing for the influx of participants on this unexpectedly hot day.

We were delighted by the turnout and the enthusiasm of the incoming delegates ready to take their seats for the first session. Michéal Connors (Natural Academy) and Adrian kicked off proceedings and welcomed Dr Alan Kellas who laid the groundwork for the day, introducing the concept of green care and providing knowledge and experience from his perspective as a psychiatrist. Alan also shared a wonderful illustration of this health and wellbeing through nature connections which can be found here.

MLWW’s Norman Dandy (Project Manager) provided the background on the project and moved things on for a discussion on delivery and financial models. Tim Sleight (Hill Holt Wood) and Jenny Archard (Neroche Woodlanders) provided their personal takes on the trials and tribulations of setting up and sustaining green care initiatives. In particular, commitment and a long-term vision are needed. As Jenny put it, practitioners need to “show up” for their participants.

After a short break, Michéal broke up the day, taking the whole group outside for a grounding in nature to appreciate what is around us and the impact it has on us. Small group discussions then allowed participants to learn about each other’s work and share what they wanted to get from the day.

Lunch and the afternoon sessions were all held up on the hillside woodland of Brown Rock. The sunshine and warmth enhanced the setting showing the woodland at its best. Workshops were varied from Rachel Stancliffe at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, giving a pragmatic overview of how to assess the impact of green care to Emily Malik and Huw Griffiths (EcoWild, Mindfulness Bath) considering how mindfulness is complemented by being outside. Other workshops focused on professional training and support (Natural Academy), self-care courses for people with long-term conditions (Avon Wildlife Trust) and the five ways to wellbeing (ARC-CIC). Jenny Archard spoke about her experience establishing Neroche Woodlanders and looking at practical steps for individuals and their organisations for moving forward.      

The day was wrapped up (albeit briefly after overrunning a little) following a moving session listening to participants both present and through reading their words. This provided the chance to refocus on why practitioners do what they do.

The day was also a chance for practitioners to connect with each other, share their experiences and learn from each other. There was a wonderful energy on the day which we hope to be able to strengthen through ongoing networking (either virtual or in real life) development of resources and study visits. For any groups interested in study visits please find more information here

For addtional resources from the day including a Mind Map and illustration of key points click here.

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