Spring to life is relaunched

22nd June, 2015
by Julian | 2 Min Read
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Following a successful funding bid, the Spring to Life project, is being relaunched from 8 October. This innovative outdoor approach, run by the Sharpham Outdoors Project, aims to help young people, aged 16 – 25 years, who are experiencing mental distress, recover by encouraging them to participate in activities outdoors.

Christine Carol from Ambios, partner of the Sharpham Outdoors Project, said: “Spring to Life has been running for  three  years and during that time over 100 young people have benefitted. The project, a ten-week programme, combines outdoor and natural history activities with mental health support from qualified staff and peer volunteer help from people who have had direct experience of mental health distress. 

“Based in the beautiful environment of the 500-acre Sharpham estate, the programme combines our specific awareness approach, called Take A Moment, with activities to allow participants to fully experience the natural world around them, which then helps them through their difficulties.”

The national mental health charity MIND states that introducing just five people with mental ill health to this kind of project (known as ecotherapy) saves the state more than £35,000 each year in medication, Jobseekers allowance and healthcare.  

A survey conducted by Ambios showed that half of a group of 16 participants studied had progressed from the project onto employment and volunteering, and still used the outdoors as part of their self supporting coping strategy.  The South Hams alone has around 78,000 people aged 18-64 with diagnosed mental ill health and this project has become recognised locally as a beneficial and positive health care referral option for young people with mental distress.

Christine added: “For one day a week over the course of ten weeks, participants learn new skills, help conserve the natural environment or simply enjoy the surroundings and take time out by the outdoor fire with others. They work towards achieving the John Muir Award, a recognised and certificated environmental scheme focused on awareness and exploration. On completion of the programme, they are able to continue with us as wildlife volunteers.”

“Programmes are designed in consultation with a mental health specialist and other young people, and delivered by our trained staff team alongside volunteer mentors who have direct experience of mental health distress. To assist with practicalities, we are able to provide lunch and some travel costs.

“It’s encouraging that, because of the funding, we can continue this vital project for another two years.”