We mainly work with adults so we don’t call our sessions Forest ‘School’ but we do use the Forest School approach of participant-lead exploration of the natural environment.
Woodland sessions for improved mental wellbeing
We have worked with GPs, Public and Community Health to run sessions for people with depression, anxiety and low mood. We also run woodland wellbeing sessions in collaboration with Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service for people with dementia and their families/carers.
Sessions aim to get people out of the house and into nature, helping them to relax and develop coping strategies for daily life.
Being outdoors in natural places is known to have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. Our small group, the calm environment and the range of activities we can offer helps people to feel more positive about the future and more able to try new things.
Woodland sessions for adults with learning disabilities
We work with a variety of people from those with complex needs to people who are independent and looking for work. Our activities can range from sensory stimulation to learning woodland skills. We tailor sessions to suit the needs, abilities and interests of each group and actively encourage participants to take the lead, suggest activities or simply do their own thing.
Staff and support workers are encouraged to take part on an equal footing with other participants and we hope that people are inspired to spend time in the woods independently for leisure or work.
Where possible sessions are run close to where people live or attend college or a day care/drop-in centre or that they can access on public transport. We can find accessible woodland sites to meet the needs of people who use walking aids or wheelchairs.
What we do during woodland sessions
This depends on people’s interests but could include:
- building, lighting and cooking on fires
- sensory stimulation and exploration
- bushcraft skills such as foraging and cooking
- environmental arts and crafts
- practical woodland management
- conservation and wildlife surveys
- activities that focus on mindfulness
We’ve been working with the Forest of Avon Trust since 2012. Projects have included dementia wellbeing sessions in north and south Bristol, social-prescribing mental health sessions and several Learning Difficulty Development Board funded projects in South Gloucestershire.
Mental wellbeing projects were run in collaboration with GP practices and Public Health Bristol. Our projects with adults with learning difficulties involved working with the Kingswood Centre, Choices4U, Milestone Trust and Brandon Trust. Our dementia wellbeing project is run in partnership with Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service.
Find out what people say about our Forest School sessions.