Guest Blog – Rhianna: An Introduction.

Being from a small steel town in the northeast, I have grown up surrounded by valleys and rural landscapes. My parents and both sets of grandparents have always been fond of gardening and the outdoors, so I guess my appreciation for nature sparked from them.

I love both nature and the built environment equally; I believe neither should be a detriment to the development or conservation of the other.

The first time I visited Liverpool I immediately felt at home. I loved the people and the city’s architecture, as well as the many famous inner-city parks. It is for these reasons why I chose to study urban planning and design at The University of Liverpool.

Having just finished my third year, I set out to gain some work experience in an area that interested me. With a passion and admiration for green infrastructure, sustainability, and regeneration, I am fortunate enough to help The Mersey Forest and Partners with their Nature4Health projects.

Over the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of visiting three of the Liverpool-based Nature4Health groups: La Salle Kitchen Garden, St. Michael’s in-the-city, and St. Margaret’s Hope Community Garden.

These projects have taught me a great deal about the good effects nature has on us all, regardless of our backgrounds. I therefore wish to share with you more about these exciting projects based on my visits, so make sure to look out for future blogs!

We’re back!

It’s been a strange few months – and thanks to the wonderful work of Nina and friends, we’ve managed to keep going. Lots of messages of support, photos and windowsill planting. But now we’re back! Slightly different times and being aware of how we move around, and connect with each other has meant a few changes on the ground. However there’s nothing like speaking face to face (at a distance!) and getting our hands dirty to really connect with both nature and each other.

If you want to come along on a Friday we’re running two sessions: 10-12 and 12-2 and limiting each group to 6 people. It’s free to join but we’d like you to get in touch first. At least for the moment so we can manage numbers. Feel free to email

A shout-out too for the National Lottery who have been really supportive of the work over the past few years and particularly of the changes we’re making at the moment. So from all of us, a big thank you!





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 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.

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.

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)