We’re delighted to have had the support of Natural England for our Natural Triggers project. We’ve partnered up with some brilliant Derbyshire projects which support people in their communities, and have introduced them to the benefits of enjoying and connecting with the countryside.
Natural Triggers is a series of day long workshops which runs from late Spring through to Autumn. The first half of each day is spent outdoors. Participants are guided and informed by Christine Wilson, our environmental educator, as they experience new and different ways of gaining enjoyment and fulfilment from a walk at sites in the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve. They are encouraged to use all their senses to heighten their awareness, and to explore the detail of their surroundings and the characteristics of the flora, fauna, heritage and landscape of the site. This learning is uniquely delivered in order to promote not only environmental understanding but also to stimulate self awareness and understanding of the analogies that can be drawn between nature and personal self-care and wellbeing. To consolidate and reflect on the morning’s learning experience, the afternoon is spent at The Farming Life Centre taking part in creative activity; led by Sue Mulroy and using clay and other materials, participants make a permanent reminder of the personal connection they made with nature earlier that day.
In its third year in 2015, Natural Triggers explored in depth how connection with the countryside can support the health and wellbeing. The format of a guided walk in the countryside closely tailored to the needs of the group on the day, followed by creative reflection using clay and other art materials was used to encourage individuals to find their own connection with nature and to seek to understand how this connection impacted on their sense of wellbeing. An important part of the project is the reflection time at the end of each day where the group is given time to communicate the challenges and the learning they experienced, and to share the insights they gained during the day.
In early 2013 The Farming Life Centre was invited by Caroline Thomas of Natural England and Sue Mulroy, Community Artist and Environmental Art Therapist, to develop and manage a new environmental learning programme in the Peak District. Caroline is a passionate advocate of Natural England’s commitment to strengthening the connection between people and nature as set out in the 2011 Natural Environment White Paper “the Natural Choice: Securing the Value of Nature”. The emphasis of the new pilot programme, launched in June 2013 and called Natural Triggers, was to introduce the benefits of connection with the countryside to sections of the community under-represented in engaging with the natural environment, namely people experiencing enduring mental ill-health and Black and Ethnic Minority groups from cities bordering the Peak District. The project ran for three years from 2013 to 2015 and we are currently seeking support to ensure it will develop and continue into the future.