Wild at Heart is an innovative, National Lottery Community Fund (formerly the Big Lottery Fund) project, working specifically with adults, aged 50 years and over.
Wild at Heart
The programme was set up to deliver ‘wildlife-related activities for older people and other vulnerable and isolated adults in Sheffield and Rotherham that will improve their health and wellbeing, reduce isolation and give them the confidence to get out and about in their community.’ The project uses a hobby-based approach to give people opportunities to try new things and gain the confidence to continue on their own or with family or friends.
During this time we have been on an intense journey discovering how and why nature connection helps to support wellbeing for so many people, what the barriers are that restrict this for many people here in Sheffield and Rotherham and how the things that we do at an urban Wildlife Trust can be developed to better support this in the future.
All our Wild at Heart activities and sessions have been based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing – Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give – from the New Economics Foundation which supports the principles behind Active Ageing. We have embedded our sessions within our local communities and developed coproduction techniques that help to build inclusive and supportive social groups as well as offering opportunities for individuals to connect, or often reconnect, with nature-based hobbies and interests.
We recognise that it can be daunting, often impossible, to engage in our complex world if you are on your own, living with complex health conditions, recovering from illness or any of the other life challenges we all might have to face as we get older. Lack of access to transport, public toilets and meaningful social networks all conspire to isolate and disempower.
The main strands of the project have been: wildlife gardening; nature photography; and exploring Sheffield and Rotherham.
If you would like more information on Wild at Heart, please contact Project Officer Jenny King on 0114 263 4335 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wild at Heart has had a huge impact on the lives of many people in Sheffield and Rotherham. Here are just a few of our participants who have benefited from the project:
Cicely is part of our nature photography group. She is also living with dementia. She was put in touch with Wild at Heart by a voluntary sector support worker to access an activity that she found meaningful and enjoyable. Despite the dementia Cicely still enjoys learning and using what she has learned for her own enjoyment and to help others. We try and focus on what Cicely can do and provide opportunities for her to be able to do it.
Nigel is a member of our Manor Fields Park group. He has a very complex health history having had several serious long-term conditions, but he has really enjoyed being a part of Wild at Heart and even says that the project has saved his life. Nigel is in his 60s and is still working part time. Nevertheless, he manages to fit Wild at Heart into his week and comes to the sessions regularly, often several times per week. We have discussed his health conditions with him and worked out the best way of adapting the sessions to accommodate his needs. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and talking with other participants and contributes a huge amount to the project.