When I was asked which environmental organisations I would like to visit as part of my internship, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Living Landscapes Project were definitely on my…
Wild Ways Well
Spending time with nature improves wellbeing
The Wild Ways Well project aims to demonstrate what most of us already know instinctively. Spending time outdoors, amongst nature, makes people feel better about themselves and their lives.
Wild Ways Well aims to get people suffering from, or at risk of, poor mental health out into the greenspaces of Cumbernauld. Whilst out amongst the trees, parks and reserves participants get a chance to slow down, relax, enjoy being in the company of other like-minded people, and participate in a variety of environmental and conservation related activities designed to fit in with the Five Ways to Wellbeing.
We’re offering a series of free sessions in Cumbernauld to give you a chance to test the Five Ways out for yourself and learn how you can bring nature into your daily life. Each session will involve a walk, a chance to chat over a hot drink and time to immerse yourself in a natural, environmental or conservation themed activity.
The Wild Ways
Wild Ways Well is structured around the Five Ways to Wellbeing, an internationally recognised framework for promoting good mental health in use by organisations all over the world including the NHS and the major UK mental health charities. The Five Ways to Wellbeing is a simple way of thinking about our mental health, suggesting 5 easy actions which we can all take to improve our happiness in our daily lives. We have taken the 5 ways and adapted them to an outdoor, green environment.
Wild Ways Well is inclusive and welcomes people (18+) from all areas of the community. It is particularly aimed at those interested in improving their mental wellbeing. Sessions are free, all you require is a basic level of fitness and clothing suitable for the Scottish weather (though some basic waterproof clothing is available for loan).
Everything we do will be done at your pace, we walk, work and learn as a team while in the outdoors and there will always be a group leader on hand to answer any questions you have.
There are two main ways of getting involved with Wild Ways Well:
As a Group
Throughout the year we run a series of ‘closed’ groups. These are for people who have been referred to us by other organisations and who work through a 12-week programme of sessions together as a group.
A typical group will consist of around 6 individuals plus a representative from the referring organisation.
Wherever possible programmes and sessions are participant led as to the exact location (within Cumbernauld) and content of each session. This can be discussed either beforehand or at the first session.
It is possible over the course of the programme for participants to earn a ‘Discover’ level John Muir Award.
As an individual
Wild Ways Well currently offers an ‘open’ group which runs on Thursday afternoons throughout the year.
This group is for anyone who feels they might benefit from coming along, you don’t have to be referred and there is no long-term commitment.
The open sessions are structured as a rolling programme with content changing every week according to the season. Participants are free to come as often as they like – though booking may be required if session numbers are limited – and can drop in and out of the programme throughout the year. We recommend attending at least 12 sessions – as an addition, anyone who attends for this time can earn a ‘Discover’ level John Muir Award.
Sessions are designed to be as friendly and welcoming as possible. Everyone involved has experience of mental health issues and knows the difficulties individuals can face when joining a new group.
If you feel it would benefit you then it is also possible to meet with a group leader individually or chat on the phone or by email before your first session.
What Can I expect?
A typical Wild Ways Well session runs for between 2 and 3 hours outdoors and is free of charge. During the session you’ll learn about the Five Ways Well and how you can use it in your daily life. You’ll get a chance to try some fun and easy outdoor environmental and conservation-based activities. There will usually be a gentle walk, a hot drink and, along the way, a chance to chat about nature and life in general.
Actvities will vary by season and from week to week but will always reflect an aspect of the five ways and will always have nature and the outdoors at its heart.
Some weeks we might learn to identify plants, trees or insects, others we’ll learn to track mammals, or identify birds by their song. We’ll try our hand at creative and reflective environmental art techniques and learn traditional forest skills. All while exploring the natural environment of Cumbernauld.
We’ll Be Active – by walking from the Town Centre to one of Cumbernauld’s nature reserves. Most sessions will involve some level of physical activity and we’ll be on our feet for the majority of the time but there is no rush to get anywhere and everything will be done at your pace.
We’ll Take Notice – By slowing right down and living in the moment. There’s no rush on our sessions, there is always time to stop and appreciate the colours of nature, follow the flight of a bumblebee or take a deep breath of fresh air. We’ll use all of our senses to notice things most people would walk on by.
We’ll Give – By working together as a group and helping each other to work to the best of everyone’s abilities. We’ll help nature by making things like bird feeders and insect homes and by planting trees and wildflowers. We’ll work to improve the natural environment and learn how we can leave no negative trace of our work behind us in the areas we use.
We’ll Connect – by meeting new people and sharing new experiences. Every session will include time for a hot drink and a break. No-one has to speak, you’re free to spend the time in any way you like, but if you want to talk there’ll be others there to listen. We’ll also spend time getting close to and connecting with the nature around us and with the wider conservation community.
We’ll Keep Learning – We’ll learn about nature, about the environment, about conservation and about ourselves. We’ll spend time learning to identify wildlife like birds, plants and trees. We’ll find out how other creatures live and how to follow their tracks through the woodlands. We’ll learn traditional forest skills like shelter building and fire making and we’ll pick up tips on being more creative.
Typical Thursday Group Session
The Thursday (open) group meets in Cumbernauld Town Centre and then takes a gentle paced walk to a local nature reserve.
While walking we’ll chat about the nature around us as we go, until we reach one of Cumbernauld’s many nature reserves where we’ll stop and brew up a hot drink over a fire.
After a tea break the group will have a go at some fun, creative, reflective outdoor activities. This might include photography or environmental art; we might use our senses to try and see the world around us in a new way; we can try our hand at animal tracking, learn how to identify plants, trees and flowers; listen to bird song or learn to survey butterflies and bumblebees.
It’s a chance to explore and learn about the natural environment of Cumbernauld while taking time to notice the world around you, relax and connect with the greenspaces while you learn new skills and give something back to nature.
All you need is a basic level of physical fitness suitable for walking to and from Cumbernauld’s greenspaces and to be dressed appropriately for the Scottish weather.
If you would like to join us or have any questions please get in touch!
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