The importance of nature for our health and wellbeing is supported by a growing body of scientific research. Wildlife-rich environments don’t just keep you physically healthy.
They can reduce stress, improve mood and reduce social isolation whilst also addressing factors that cause health problems, such as air pollution.
A report by the University of Essex (Wellbeing Benefits from Natural Environments Rich in Wildlife) investigated the contribution of The Wildlife Trusts to public health. The results suggest that Wildlife Trusts provide significant and important contributions to the promotion of good public health and to Green Care (the use of nature-based interventions to treat diagnosed illnesses) in the UK. Read the report here.
Through our work, we unlock the ability of nature to improve public health by providing disease prevention and self-care opportunities. Our nature reserves provide an extensive network of free-to-access places where anyone can be active outdoors and these are visited by hundreds of thousands of people every year. Our ‘Natural Health Service’ projects support hundreds of people to improve their mental and physical health through supported activities in nature. In doing so, participants also have opportunities to experience wildlife in ways they wouldn’t otherwise have.
The Wildlife and Habitat Management course is a six-week outdoor skills programme available in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Cirencester and the Forest of Dean. The programme is designed for long-term unemployed people and for those who feel marginalised due to learning difficulties, contact with the criminal justice system, social isolation or mental health issues.
Brighter Futures delivers significant improvements in wellbeing, transferable skills, motivation and employability while building lasting social networks between people who otherwise would not have met. Watch below to see the impact the programme can have on a recent course.
Garden Mentors work with social housing tenants who are unable to use or maintain their gardens. We recruit and train volunteers from the local community who work together with the tenants to transform gardens into spaces which are great for wildlife and also usable and manageable with the support of local garden volunteers. Many of the tenants experience social isolation, so the long-term benefits for them go far beyond having a usable outside space to enjoy.
South West Health and Environment Project
On behalf of the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership, we are working on a project with Local Nature Partnerships across the South West and with colleagues at Public Health England, NHS England and the South Region Health and Sustainability Network. The aim is to help create more sustainable healthcare systems by making better use of the opportunities provided by the natural environment. The project will create guidance, practical tools and deliver training to help make this happen.
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust participated in the Stroud social prescribing pilot and now offers opportunities through social prescribing in hubs across the county.
Five ways to wellbeing
Nature is one of the perfect settings in which to practice the Five Ways to Wellbeing and this is an integral part of our approach. Why not try them for yourself using the suggestions below?
Go outside for a walk or explore your nearest green space or nature reserve
With the people around you, share your wildlife experiences, on Twitter and Facebook
Join one of our practical volunteer groups and help deliver local wildlife conservation
Look for the wildlife on your doorstep
Try something new outside by coming to one of our events or courses