Reconnect in Nature is a community interest company that helps people reconnect with their natural environment, reconnect with themselves and create a community that supports each other. Their activities encompass outdoor activities with a wider group of participants, many of whom have experienced disadvantages in life. Reconnect supports people in developing the skills and confidence they need to participate more fully in society through engaging in the natural environment and utilising nature as a natural healing ally.
The group’s vision was to establish a training base, which they have now done on a 4.5 acre site at Gelli Hill Woods near Llawhaden, with support from Renew Wales.
The Renew Wales co-ordinator, Andy, facilitated an action planning process with the group, through which they realised their priority was to get support to undertake a woodland management survey and then draw up a woodland management plan because they did not have the relevant knowledge or skills within the group for this.
They were assigned peer mentor, Gareth Ellis, who firstly came and spent time with the group, familiarising himself with them and with the site and then worked with the volunteers to draw up a management plan. Over time the volunteers did more survey and mapping work themselves and developed ideas about what the woodlands should provide and be utilised for, and ultimately these were incorporated into the plan.
“We didn’t have the expertise and knowledge about woodlands from within the group but now, as that knowledge has been transferred to us we feel that we have a much clearer picture of what we can and need to do here and we can go forward with confidence from the guidance that we were given.” Mike Erskine- member of Reconnect.
The group’s plan outlines their ideas for creating more biodiversity and building a shelter, which they will design, fundraise for, and learn to build. They also have plans to hold more volunteering days, having previously held some courses in the woods. At the beginning of 2018 Reconnect had a small steering group of 4 people and 4 of 5 regular volunteers. By the end of the year the steering group has doubled and the pool of ready and able volunteers has tripled in size.
“There is a strong move towards people realising the benefit of nature for our health and mental wellbeing, and we’re noticing this especially within the health sector. We have seen a lot of people requesting training and a lot of people who want to just come and spend time with us either for their own mental wellbeing or to help and support others.” Mike Erskine – member of Reconnect.
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