Building a closer relationship with nature is essential to the wellbeing of humans and can benefit nature too.
Taking part in activities such as walking, growing food or simply noticing nature can improve mood, physical health and confidence. Nature Connect is a Norfolk and Waveney Mind Project running in three urban locations: Norwich (Mile Cross), Kings Lynn and Great Yarmouth to support individuals to develop a relationship with nature.
The University of Derby has carried out research which found that the ‘closer we get to nature the happier we are, the more worthwhile life seems, and the more we are willing to take action to help our wildlife and the environment.’
In Mile Cross there are many green spaces to connect with nature in between the houses, while just a short walk down Galley Hill is Sloughbottom Park, where you can join the Marriots Way and soon explore Sweet Briar Marshes with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. During our weekly walks, the Mile Cross Marsh is always brimming with new wildflowers some include: deadly nightshade, mallow, speedwell and pyramidal orchids.
The urban centre of King's Lynn offers some fantastic green spaces with an enormous variety of wildlife and biodiversity right on the doorstep. The Walks Park has an incredible set of extraordinary trees including beautiful oaks and Horsechestnut. Harding's Pits nature reserve nestling on the banks of the Ouse is a foragers paradise and a short walk away. A recent group discovered together 14 edible species including blackberries, horseradish, crab apples and wild spinach to name just a few!
In Great Yarmouth we have been engaging with lots of different community groups to explore ways of discovering nature together, including The Herring Trust and Acorn Centre. We have been working closely with our fantastic partners at the Bread Kitchen joining their vibrant pottering and growing sessions. Also translating our leaflets into Lithuanian, Portuguese and Romanian to help us reach the local, diverse community.
We’ve been crunching the data from our feedback forms from the different groups and courses and learnt that over 80% of responses said that engaging with nature has significantly improved their well-being and given them confidence to continue this relationship moving forward.
The Nature Connect courses and groups offer a chance to learn new skills for positive mental health but also to connect with the community and each other.
In September and October, we’ll be running the following courses, get in touch to find out what is on near you for yourself, your friend and family or the people you support:
Monthly ‘Forest Bathing’ Sessions, this is a relaxation process which helps us fully become aware of, and “take in”, the nature around us through mindfulness practice and some simple breathing techniques.
Weekly Mindful Walks, exploring a local nature spot throughout the seasons, with opportunities to learn about foraging.
Weekly Pottering Groups, we have teamed up with a local community garden to connect with others whilst looking after the space and growing food.
A 4-week free nature awareness course – Nature Re-Connect: develop a more mindful and enriching connection with the natural world around you and learn how you can use this relationship to enhance your wellbeing.
To find out more or book your place on the project please get in touch with The Nature Connect Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope to see you in nature soon.
- Lucy Allen, Nature Connect Support Worker