From an article by Liveability
Flourish is a wellbeing discovery programme run by Liveability where people learn new skills, build confidence, make friends and have fun. Participants get involved in horticulture, conservation, maintenance and rural craft, in the tranquil setting of gardens and unspoiled nature reserve in Dorset.
This is a medium term volunteering project for approximately 6 months where participants will join a team for one day a week and gain practical hands on experience, skills and knowledge in conservation and horticulture. In addition there will be a programme of activities aimed at improving individual’s wellbeing.
One of the key aspects of Flourish is the diversity of people who participate which creates a mutually-supportive community. They welcome disabled people, those living with mental health issues and people wanting to improve their wellbeing. Participants learn new skills, work with others in a team and connect with nature.
Livability is the disability charity that sees real value in connecting people with community experiences and networks of support. Many of their services across the country are supporting people both physically and mentally in community based activities as a way of minimising the risks of isolation. Flourish is one of the services that works in this way, based at their wellbeing discovery centre in Dorset – Livability Holton Lee. An ecotherapy project, it supports a number of people that have been referred to the programme for its wellbeing benefits.
Working with qualified ecotherapists, Flourish supports around 60 people per week to:
Develop valuable life skills
Become more physically active
Find a sense of achievement
Build self-confidence and motivation
Enjoy new friendships
Research has found strong links between nature and the improvement of mental health and wellbeing. A recent report published by the Public Health Community Fellowship explored the subject of tackling loneliness in the community through nature-based activities. It featured Livability’s Flourish project in its findings which showed:
91% of participants either agreed or strongly agreed they felt sociable and enjoyed life overall since joining the activity.
82% of participants either agreed or strongly agreed they felt physically healthy since joining the flourish ecotherapy group.
The report also looked at whether nature-based activities could be used as a community resource by GPs to tackle loneliness in Dorset. Of the 34 GPs surveyed – none had referred a patient to nature-based activities, but encouragingly 91% agreed it would be something they would consider in the future.
Find out more about Flourish at Livability’s Holton Lee centre here.
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