Hope Community Garden

A lovely new project kicked off today in Liverpool. St. Margaret’s of Antioch Church in Toxeth is hosting weekly gardening sessions to transform the grounds alongside the church and make it a place to be proud of. It’s open every Friday, so drop in for a couple of hours between 9:30am – 2.30pm. No experience is necessary, there’s no charge and all are welcome. Jenn and Nina are running the sessions, so if you are interested, please do drop a line to Clare.Olver@Merseyforest.org.uk and we’ll put you in touch.

To give you a flavour of what it look likes now, here are a couple of Jenn’s photos taken before the work has started:     

Lots more posts to come following the progress of this exciting new project connecting people with nature and with each other.

Like us and share with your friends:

St. Michael in the City – a Forest Church

We’re delighted to announce that the first project under our latest Nature4Health programme supported by the National Lottery Community Fund has been a wonderful success at helping to bring a community together.

With funding for Nature4Health kicking off in June, we are pleased to be working in partnership with our long-standing friends at Liverpool based charity, Faiths4Change, to support the development of a new community asset within the grounds of St. Michael in the City Church.

The support through Nature4Health has helped to reduce social isolation through the friendships that have established during the creation of a new community garden . It is part of a wider and much needed programme of activity that the church leaders and community have developed together in order to develop a renewed sense of pride in a rapidly changing neighbourhood. The church is located in the Baltic Triange, Liverpool – an area that is probably one of the most exciting and fast growing areas of the city, but has a small and diverse local population which has benefited from the activities linking people together. Curate at St. Michael’s and William Temple Foundation Scholar, Gill Reeve, has written a lovely blog post about the project at the church has come together.

Rosie who runs the group is delighted with how it has gone:

So far we have over 20 people signed up for the Nature4health course. Each week, we are averaging around 10 participants and lots of other people have been dropping into find out more about the garden and how to get involved. We have lots of regulars, a few people have been every single week and have also progressed on to join some of our other activities too which is fantastic.

The garden is providing a much needed green oasis within the city and the benefits of connecting with nature are well understood for our physical and mental wellbeing, particularly helping to reduce social isolation as Rosie explains:

The garden is welcome to people from all different backgrounds, including a those referred by the local charities such as The Brain Charity,  Crisis and Asylum Link For most people, it is the first time they have done any gardening and there has been lots of positive feedback from participants saying they are finding it a great way to relax, make friends and are learning a lot. There is a real sense of community growing within the group.

The group are not stopping there, and plans are in place to grow the community by connecting with the local school, St. Vicent’s, the adjoinging college, and for a new boundary fence to replace the old railings during the winter. Wider afield, the work at St. Michael is supporting delivery of EU funded programme Urban GreenUP which is helping to support Liverpool in a changing climate through the power of nature.

One of the best things about supporting the work at St. Michael in the City is how the spirit of Liverpool is alive and kicking – and despite divisions at a national level, the generosity and willingness to work in true partnership with other organisations, proves that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Like us and share with your friends:

Nature boosts health and wellbeing for nearly 2000 people in Merseyside and North Cheshire

Over the last three years nearly 2,000 people took part in ‘Nature4Health’ – and our evaluation shows that on average they saw a big boost to their wellbeing and an increase in their everyday physical activity.

The results of the evaluation show that people who took part increased their levels of walking and moderate physical activity by over a third by the end of the twelve weeks. Participants also saw a significant improvement in their mental wellbeing, recorded by before and after surveys. The results are particularly significant because of the large number of participants.

The findings are in line with growing evidence that the natural environment is important to our health and wellbeing. The government calls for more ‘green prescribing’ in its recently published 25 Year Plan for the Environment. The plan encourages the NHS to work more closely with environmental organisations to offer therapies such as gardening and outdoor exercise in natural settings to people with mild to moderate mental health conditions and who may be struggling to overcome loneliness and isolation.

Paul Nolan OBE, Director of the Mersey Forest commented:

“We’ve known for years that the local environment can be a powerful tool in improving wellbeing – and now with Nature4Health we’ve shown how that tool can be put into action, in real communities, at a large scale. We’re looking forward to working with the NHS and local authorities to build on this success and help more people improve their everyday lives.”

Quotes from people who took part in Nature4Health activities include:

“I’ve come off antibiotics after being on them for 20+ years due to a long term lung condition – the walking helps my breathing.” (Jan)

“I feel a lot healthier – I notice my knees feel a lot better. My breathing has improved- I am not panting or wheezing like I did when I first started.” (Ken)

“You meet new people and it is great for mental health and social activity. The comradeship of the group is important to me and we have a good group.” (Alison)

“Since I have been on the course I feel much more relaxed and I am starting to appreciate life again. I still have a long journey ahead, but I am beginning to cope a lot more” (Andrea)

Like us and share with your friends:

Everyone’s a Winner!

Following a prize draw to celebrate the end of ‘Nature4 Health’ two lucky winners have received ‘Go Outdoors’ vouchers, enabling them to purchase equipment designed to help them continue to enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors and mindful contact with nature that they gained from their involvement with the project.

Sue (below centre) took part in our Health Walks at Taylor Park in St Helen’s last year. Sue and her husband Ken were dedicated members of the group, walking in all weathers. They enjoyed the contact with other, like-minded people who were focused on a goal of walking as part of a weight loss programme. But the overall benefits of being outdoors in the beautiful surroundings of the park meant they felt a connection with each other and with nature. The group enjoyed seeing the changes in the landscape and wildlife as the seasons passed. ‘I will really miss the group’, said Sue. ‘There were some days when I really didn’t want to go, but I knew my friends would be there and so it motivated me to go and join in. I didn’t get out of the house much before that group; I needed that ‘push’ to get me out, and I then I loved it!’

If you live in the Mersey Forest area and feel inspired to get out and explore  click here for some more ideas. 

 

Sue (centre) with husband Ken and Suzanne Londra from The Mersey Forest.
Like us and share with your friends:

A fabulous story to tell

After three years and many great successes The Mersey Forest’s Nature4Health project has come to an end.

Funding from Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities Fund has meant that we were able to work with a really diverse range of partner organisations to improve the wellbeing of nearly 2,000 people across Merseyside and North Cheshire through using contact with nature, their local communities and green spaces.

And, thanks to funding from Cheshire West & Chester Council, we are continuing to work on Cheshire’s Natural Health Service for people living in Cheshire West.

An impact report will soon be published, detailing research and analysis of Nature4Health carried out by our researchers, together with colleagues at  Liverpool John Moore’s University and the University of Liverpool.   We all know that contact with nature is probably a good thing, but this research will highlight exactly why that’s the case.  In the meantime, watch these films about some of our key projects with ‘The Reader’ and ‘Change, Live Grow St Helen’s’ , which show the human impact of our work with communities.

Like us and share with your friends: