Wild Ways Well

A greenspace improvement programme that supports individual resilience and wellbeing for people who are at risk of developing a mental health condition

Grantee: The Conservation Volunteers

What we set out to achieve

The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), in partnership with Cumbernauld Living Landscape (CLL) are proposing a greenspace improvement programme that supports individual resilience and wellbeing for people who are at risk of developing a mental health condition.

This proposed programme will be delivered in key green infrastructure areas in and around Cumbernauld and will:

  • Support active involvement in improving greenspaces for wider community use and benefit.
  • Provide opportunities for improvements in physical and mental health
  • Improve the quality, accessibility and quantity of the Cumbernauld Living Landscape through volunteer participation
  • Deliver greater engagement and understanding of local greenspaces via community and individual engagement in the programme
  • Reduce levels of loneliness and social isolation

Where did the idea for the project come from?

Wild Ways Well is an adaptation of TCV’s Green Gym delivery model incorporating elements of Mind’s model of resilience and New Economics Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing model. TCV have been working closely with CLL who are responsible for the strategic management of green infrastructure in and around Cumbernauld. TCV have had Wild Ways Well trainees test and develop the idea within the CLL. This was through our HLF funded Natural Networks programme in 2016/17 and the HLF funded Natural Communities programme (2015/16).

How communities have helped us develop our ideas

The project has been co-designed nationally with mental health charity Mind and locally tested with a range of partners and beneficiary groups during a pilot phase in Cumbernauld in 2016.

From this pilot, qualitative evidence gathered provided support for the use of a Wild Ways Well approach for participants at risk from social isolation and poor mental health. The pilot report (Jan 2017) stated in conclusion that “By bringing people together to enjoy and develop an awareness of local nature and wildlife, building on individual and community assets - Wild Ways Well creates and maintains positive social relationships; building physical and psychological strength and resilience with benefits for individuals and the whole community. By integrating physical and mental health, particularly for those who are unaware of the need to or reluctant to increase activity levels; Wild Ways Well promotes purpose and participation enabling people to build self-esteem and confidence levels. “

How our project fits into the bigger picture

Wild Ways Well will contribute to the achievement of local Health and Wellbeing strategies across the country, providing an effective prevention and early intervention programme. It will enhance local capacity; reduce costs for Healthcare services, and provide a mechanism to establish greater community cohesion. The project will directly support the reduction of health inequalities by targeting recognised at risk groups in disadvantaged areas of Cumbernauld with the provision of a non-threatening and stigma-free intervention.

Where would we like our project to lead us

TCV are now ready to roll the programme out across the wider CLL area. To do this we now have a full time Project Officer tasked with developing all aspects of the programme over a longer period including developing education and training materials and strengthening our WWW evaluation framework with our existing partner, Edinburgh University. Doing so will realise self-sustaining Wild Ways Well community action groups able to run independently beyond the timeframe of GICEF. Beyond this TCV see application of the Wild Ways Well delivery model with other landscape type initiatives, both urban and rural, and in a range of settings including NHS estates, housing associations and within the education sector where It is well documented that schools, and secondary schools in particular, have an increasingly important role to play in early intervention provision for children and young people with emerging, low-level mental health problems.

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