Six grant funded projects to help people in Mid Wales reconnect with nature

Improving health, wellbeing and resilience across Wales through increased participation in nature remains a top priority for NRW which launched a £2m Resilient Communities Grants Programme earlier this year, with the aim of providing communities with opportunities to restore and enhance nature in their local areas, particularly in Wales’ most disadvantaged communities, and those with little access to nature.

Overall, the grant programme attracted 220 applications seeking funding totalling more than £20m. Each application was appraised, and 21 successful applicants were selected.

Among the successful applicants in Mid Wales was Tir Coed which aims to deliver improved wellbeing, skills, community engagement, nature connection and awareness of climate change for people not usually engaged in nature in Ceredigion and Powys.  The project called Antir will help the organisation to expand its woodland-based provision to include nature-friendly food growing, regenerative practices such as hedge, meadow or orchard restoration and broader heritage skills.

It will work with communities, their green spaces, community hubs and outdoor social groups to support them achieve their plans and co­design projects and enterprises which could create work and volunteering opportunities as well as social engagement.

With Closer to Nature, Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, aims to bring nature closer to people who are disadvantaged by health or age by working with different organisations in a range of health care settings in Llandrindod Wells and Rhayadr. A key element of the project is developing a method for measuring behaviour change and the benefits people gain from access to nature that can be used in various settings. Included in the project programme are 80 nature sessions ranging from wildlife walks and wildlife ­friendly gardening to technology-supported activities that will bring nature indoors for people with severe mobility limitations.

In the market town of Knighton, local community group Knighton Woodland Tots, will consolidate its forest school programme while diversifying the scope to include river reconnection for the promotion of health, wellbeing, awareness raising, and community empowerment. Celebrating the River Teme is an ambitious 12-month project with an estimated target audience of 400 participants. The project will facilitate safe and creative access for all to the River Teme by encouraging and drawing on creativity, cultural memory, leisure, community arts, participation in citizen science and preventative practice.

The Outdoor Partnership will upskill outdoor, health and social care professionals to engage with people with various physical and mental health care issues over five 10-week intervention programmes in Powys and Ceredigion. Opening Doors to the Outdoors will take groups into outdoor settings in a safe and responsible way. The Outdoor Partnership will lead on the facilitation, promotion, stakeholder engagement and feedback collation of the programmes and additional training, with support from the wider team and referral organisations signposting participants to the intervention programmes. This project will contribute towards long-term behavioural change among project participants by reducing their dependence on health care services, improving their connection to nature, and reducing their social isolation.

In addition to these four projects, two wider initiatives are under way which are hoped to be of direct benefit to the people in Mid Wales:

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority aims to deliver more than 450 accessible walks as part of the project West Wales Walking for Wellbeing. Focusing on Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion this project aims to encourage people with sedentary lifestyles to spend more time outdoors, become more active and improve health and wellbeing. Furthermore, this project seeks to train up 30 community volunteers to learn new skills such as walk leading, building confidence and knowledge.

Coed Lleol aims to promote innovation and participation in health and wellbeing activities in the outdoors through supporting a network of leaders. Connecting Woodlands and People for Wellbeing will develop a map of 'wellbeing woodlands' and a network of trained, connected and supported activity providers. Coed Lleol will provide online training, engagement and wellbeing sessions and tools to support groups with managing attendance and evidencing impact.

Rachel Jarvis, NRW’s senior officer for Mid Wales Area Statement said:

Reconnecting People and Places is a key theme and priority under the Mid Wales Area Statement and we are delighted to be able to support these projects and the organisations which are delivering positive change towards people’s health and well-being through greater use and appreciation of our local environmental assets.”

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