The Hawthorn Project

by Bec Cork in Bristol, Bristol, England

The Hawthorn Project
We did it
On 1st May 2018 we successfully raised £300 with 7 supporters in 42 days

We support women in recovery who want to build confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing, inviting them to the woods to spend time in nature.

by Bec Cork in Bristol, Bristol, England

The Hawthorn Project is a women’s recovery project based at Tortworth Forest Centre.

We invite women in recovery from substance abuse to join us for our weekly woodland sessions, to build confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing.

The programme will last for 8 weeks, and throughout the programme will develop skills and confidence that will support their ongoing recovery and improve self-esteem and wellbeing. The programme will be completely free to participants.

The project is the first of its kind, run by women for women. It offers women the opportunity to step outside of their day-to-day lives and spend some time in a safe space learning new skills, creating positive social connections and a break from focusing on their addiction.

Previous participants reporting improvements in their physical health, their relationships with their families, their self-esteem and enjoyment of life. Some of these women will return as peer mentors this spring.

As part of the Hawthorn Project, women will learn woodland skills such as fire lighting, outdoor cooking, plant, wildlife and birdsong identification, crafts and tool use. This is all taught in such a way so as to improve confidence, encourage peer support and teamwork, and of course to be enjoyable. All the activities are non-compulsory – we recognise the value of a good cup of tea and a chat! All we ask is our women come with a positive attitude and allow those who are doing activities to do so with encouragement and positivity.

Women who attend the project say that it gives them something to look forward to each week, and a reason to stay sober.

This project can dramatically change lives, creating a positive support network that will last beyond the duration of the project; women will have the support network, the tools and resources they need to continue their recovery.

Once the project is over the women are encouraged to join one of the volunteering and conservation opportunities at Tortworth Forest Centre which aims to support individuals in recovery.

Why Woodlands?

Taking time out of our daily lives to switch off, relax, and focus on ourselves is important to our mental wellbeing. But so often we don’t feel that we have the skills, equipment or knowledge to step out into the wild; nor do we prioritise looking after our own needs over the competing needs of our lives, our families and relationships.

This is especially true of women who are in recovery.

We know that when we spend time together in the woodland we feel more relaxed and confident. With us, you will meet new people who are also committed to recovery and can support and help each other, and together we form good memories of our time under the trees. With support and guidance from our experienced woodland leaders, you will leave with new knowledge and confidence in your own abilities to take on new challenges.

Studies have shown that spending time in nature is good for our health, lowers our blood pressure, relaxes us and makes us happier. And the best bit is that nature is completely free.

Previous participants have told us that they leave feeling relaxed and calm; that they feel alive again, and rediscover who they were before their addiction.

This is the breathing space you need to return to your life with confidence to deal with your addiction, and to face the challenges that life brings.

The arboretum is a stunning place to be in all weather and all year round, with beauty at every turn. Wild animals, exotic trees, wildflowers, the smell of woodsmoke, and of course the gentle bleating of our woodland goats.

Read more about our team of women and why we do what we do on our website:


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£20 or more

Acorn: donation

A small donation with a large impact. Pledge £20 and we will add you to our list of donors on the website and love you forever!

£30 or more

Hazel: donation

As well as being listed on our website you will receive our undying love!

£50 or more

2 of 20 claimed

Coastal Redwood: woodland gift

You will receive a foraged or handmade gift from the arboretum made by our volunteers and staff.

£100 or more

0 of 10 claimed

Holm Oak: arboretum tour

Our undying adulation on the Hawthorn Project website as well as a private tour of the arboretum lasting 2 hours. Learn the secrets of Tortworth with a tour exclusively for donors, discover the exotic trees, meet the goats and gather around the fire for a warming cup of mulled apple juice before returning home.

£1,000 or more

0 of 2 claimed

Monkey Puzzle: Private arboretum tour

You and 5 guests will be invited to experience The Hawthorn Project for yourselves on a day that suits you. Explore the woodland with the project's founder, and gain an amazing insight into this incredible arboretum. Learn new woodland skills including fire lighting and willow weaving, cook up a treat on the camp fire and meet the woodland goats!

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