The Poundbury Nature for Wellbeing Project

by Miles King in Dorchester, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 21st July 2023 we successfully raised £7,525 ( + est. £271.25 Gift Aid ) with 65 supporters in 42 days

We will bring people closer to nature to help their health & wellbeing, through the arts, mindfulness and helping manage places for nature.

by Miles King in Dorchester, England, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

It's fantastic news that we've reached our £5000 stretch target,  thanks to the generosity of donors, Aviva employees and the Aviva community fund. 

For the remaining 2 weeks we want to achieve our second stretch target of £7000. The extra funding will enable us to take on more practitioners, offer a wider range of activities and run longer courses over a greater time period. 

As this is a pilot project, if we raise enough extra funds we can bring in statistics experts to support our work evaluating the impact of the different nature-based activities on the participants mental health/wellbeing using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. Analysing data like this is expensive but it is also vital to show which activities are delivering the most improvement. 

 


The Poundbury  Nature for Wellbeing Project

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Being in nature helps people with their mental health and wellbeing. The Poundbury Nature for Wellbeing Project aims to provide benefits for people's mental health and wellbeing - offering a varied programme of activities set within the wildlife-rich places of Poundbury. 

Activities will include:

  • being in nature, walking in nature and talking about nature.
  • managing the amazing wildlife-rich places we are making in Poundbury
  • Using Citizen Science to notice and understand nature. 
  • Butterfly and Bee recording.
  • Counting Bee Orchids and other wildflowers
  • Creating art, singing, writing poetry, creative writing about nature.
  • Mindfulness, gentle exercise programmes including Tai Chi, learning breathing techniques that can help health and mood.

Activities will be prescribed by local GP practices, and offered to participants freely, with travel expenses paid. Group sizes will be small so everyone benefits. This is a pilot project running in 2023  where we will monitor outcomes and report at the end of the project.

People Need Nature

People Need Nature was formed in 2015, to promote the value of nature in people's everyday lives - the emotional, sensory and spiritual value of nature. We want people to celebrate nature, be inspired by nature, and to improve their health and wellbeing through nature.

This "Poundbury Nature for Wellbeing" project follows on from the last three years' work, where we have been working with the community in Poundbury (Dorset) creating and enhancing new areas for wildlife, close to where people live. You can read about the project on our webpage here.

Although it may seem a wealthy place, Poundbury is a very mixed community, as is neighbouring Dorchester. The area where the project takes place includes communities that have struggled for many years, and Covid has hit them very hard. Many people are now suffering from poor mental health and we aim to provide a range of activities so there will be something to appeal to everyone. 

We work closely with the Damers First School in Poundbury, where we run wildflower seed collecting expeditions for the children and they enjoy a short walk from school to see the wildlife on the ancient Poundbury Hillfort. We are working with the school to create Damers School's own Wildflower Meadow, with the seeds the children have collected and grown on at school. 

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Damers School children show their artwork inspired by a wildflower expedition 

We are delighted to have been accepted onto the Wild Isles Aviva Community Crowdfunder. We will use the money raised here to fund a pilot project to take place in 2023, testing how we can best run a Green Social Prescribing Project for the local community; and what are the most effective activities to run.

 

Green Social Prescribing

In 2023 we aim to run a pilot project using "Green Social Prescribing" to help local people who are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. Green Social Prescribing refers to activities prescribed by local GPs to patients where their doctor feels that they will benefit from spending time in nature and taking part in various activities in nature. 

We will be organising and providing the activities, using the money raised from this Crowdfunder and elsewhere. 

Being in nature, Looking after places rich in nature.

The first set of activities that we are planning include simple walks and talks in nature, sitting in nature and appreciating its beauty, looking for awe in nature and being mindful in nature. We will also be organising management activities as the places we have created need to be looked after. Management includes cutting and raking hay meadows, collecting wildflower seeds, growing them on and planting them out to create new places rich in wildlife - such as the Damers Wildflower Meadow mentioned above. 

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Volunteers raking and pitchforking an area being restored to Wildflower Meadow.

We will organise butterfly and bee survey walks and Orchid counts, for participants to learn about the different kinds of wildlife in Poundbury's nature-rich places, and collect useful information about the nature that's moving in to these new places. There is strong evidence that just being in nature improves mood and outlook; and that getting active physically in management activities like hay mowing and raking also improves wellbeing. 

Funding from the Wild Isles Crowdfunder will help pay for tools, waterproofs, gloves, high visibility vests and other protective equipment, for those taking part in management activities.

Creativity in Nature 

We will work with expert practitioners in the arts to use creativity to boost people's mental health and wellbeing. These include poetry workshops, creative writing workshops, painting workshops, singing activities and as many others as we can organise. Art in Poundbury recently organised their first "Art in the Park" event with 80 artists taking part. Art in Poundbury is very keen to work with us on this project. 

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We have already worked with Poet Louisa Adjoa-Parker who ran a series of climate and nature poetry workshops in the run up to COP26. Louisa is keen to work with us again on the Nature for Wellbeing project.

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Poet Louisa Adjoa-Parker runs a PNN climate poetry workshop for Damers school pupils.

Funding from this Crowdfunder  would pay for practitioners to run activities as well as materials for painting. 

Mindfulness and Exercise in Nature

Part of the pilot project will explore using mindfulness and exercise activities including Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong in a nature-rich environment. Participants will also learn about the health benefits of active breathing and movements which they can learn during the project, and then practice at home. 

Funding from this Crowdfunder will be used to pay expert practitioners to run sessions in the wildflower meadows and other nature-rich places in Poundbury. 

Please Give what you can.

For this Wild Isles crowdfunder, Aviva will donate twice your donation amount, up to a maximum of £500 pledge from Aviva, for each donation. So every penny counts.

We need funds to pay expert practitioners to run activities, which are free to participants. Donations will also support other parts of the project including tools, safety equipment, and art materials. Your donations will also support the costs associating with running the project and leading the practical management sessions. 

We will produce a report showing how effective the pilot has been and what has worked well.

People Need Nature is a small charity with minimal overhead costs, so every penny raised will be used to support this Green Social Prescribing pilot project. 

We are grateful for the support already pledged by the College of Medicine and Integrated Health, Dorchester Town Council and Poundbury Waitrose - and grateful to the Duchy of Cornwall for supporting the Poundbury Nature Project. 

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£20 or more

12 of 12 claimed

Signed copy of a Guy Shrubsole book

Signed copy of Guy Shrubsole's "The Lost Rainforests of Britain"

£20 or more

Guided walk of the Poundbury Nature project

Guided walks of the Poundbury Nature project will be provided for a £20 donation.

£20 or more

6 of 6 claimed

Signed copy of Lisa Schneidau's folk tale book

A signed copy of one of Lisa Schneidau's folk tales books. Botanical Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland; Woodland Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland; River Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland

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