Between August 2018 and June 2019, three Branching Out programmes were delivered on Deeside by Outdoor and Woodland Learning North East Group (OWLNEG), in partnership with Alcohol Drugs Action (ADA) and the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH). ADA and SAMH both provided professional mental health support workers for the delivery team and NTS Ranger Service kindly facilitated a woodland base which afforded easy access up and down the Dee Valley via a main bus route. Clients were referred onto both programmes from a variety of referral agencies, including GP practices, and came from a wide rural area around Banchory, and also from Stonehaven and Laurencekirk.
We would like to continue to deliver further Branching Out programmes with our partners for the local communities of South Aberdeenshire. Branching Out programme leaders provide a variety of activities. Informed by client interests, these include nature walks, outdoor cooking, craft, mindfulness, conservation and bushcraft activities. Participation over the 12-week programmes, allows clients to gain John Muir Discovery Awards. Along with Branching Out Certificates, these are presented at Award Ceremonies to which family and friends are invited. To connect the programme into the local community and provide potential opportunities for leisure, training and employment, we invite community partners (e.g. NTS Ranger Service, Number One, Community Matters; Paths for All) to visit and lead activities, e.g. NTS Rangers lead several conservation activities, including wildlife trail camera setting, nature walks and rhododendron clearance.
The money raised will help pay for professional input, transport and organisational/management of the project.