Having a strong and meaningful connection to nature is associated with improved wellbeing and mood, lower anxiety, improved life satisfaction, as well as feeling connected to the wider world and being compassionate to both other people and nature. Recent research has also shown that people can gain all these benefits without necessarily spending any more time in nature, but by simply noticing the everyday urban nature all around us.
All our Wild at Heart activities and sessions are 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 also incorporate into all our sessions the 5 Pathways to Nature Connection – Sensing, Beauty, Meaning, Emotion, and Compassion – from the University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Research Group, to promote a meaningful and active relationship with nature for our wellbeing.
Our programmes are participant-led: many of the activities we run and the places we visit were originally suggested by our participants; we always try to incorporate their local knowledge and personal interests to celebrate the community’s heritage and to offer the opportunities for individuals to reconnect with nature-based hobbies which hold personal meaning. Through this co-production, we build inclusive and supportive community groups, facilitating the social networks that people need to be supported in challenging circumstances and to develop resilience.
What we do
Sessions usually start with a chat about the day’s topic with tea and biscuits, then we go on a nature walk in the local area to take in the changing seasons, followed by a nature-based activity. We support local organisations and charities and invite local experts and artists as guest speakers to our sessions. Sometimes we visit local and accessible parks, nature reserves and museums, all in the company of friendly Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers!