Spring to Life Case Studies
Seb came to Spring to Life with severe anxiety, lacking the confidence to interact with the group and shying away from conversations. He used the initial experience to simply be in the environment, acknowledging the approach which runs through each session. We refer to this approach as Take a Moment. It uses the sense of place offered by Sharpham and draws on the approach adopted by the staff and volunteer team; for Seb this translated to learning about nature conservation and to carry out practical habitat improvements. This allowed him to be at ease with himself and his surroundings and in time he started to relax. Seb used the 10 week placement to face his anxiety and explore his interests in the outdoors; contributing to the activities in which he was most interested. These turned out to be exploring the properties of trees, working with wood and making items from the woodland. Seb carried on his involvement with Ambios via volunteering days, and is currently embarking on a 15 month woodland management Apprenticeship. He has achieved his chainsaw qualification and is working in woodlands across the county gaining experience. He has become more independent and returns to Spring to Life to support some of the activities we run in woodlands and with green wood.
Bradley came from Chances, an offshoot of Devon Youth Service providing full time education for secondary age pupils who exhibit a range of behaviours that lead to them facing the prospect of permanent exclusion from mainstream school. In Bradley's case he came with a host of unresolved issues relating to his home and personal life, and had severe self confidence issues resulting from his multiple scleroses. He had previously attempted suicide. The supportive environment offered through the Spring to Life team of volunteers provided him with personal support tailored to his needs, and an ear from someone who had experienced similar situations. The engagement with environmental activities with peers built his self confidence and he is now continuing to engage with Ambios at Sharpham through a National Diploma scheme, filling the void left by his exclusion from mainstream school. In the words of Chances and relating to young people like Bradley; 'the experiences that they gain by attending Spring to Life are excellent. They develop enormously by being in a positive outdoor environment. They learn new skills via the opportunity of trying hands on experiences ... The calm and stress free environment can be extremely therapeutic for these youngsters. When they come back to Chances they all talk very positively about the opportunities that they have been given and how well they get on with the staff and volunteer group'.
Will started his engagement with Spring to Life with the support of a one to one carer. He suffered severe anxiety and struggled to get out of bed in the morning. He achieved an undergraduate degree and, when embarking on his postgraduate studies his stress levels became unbearable. He started smoking cannabis and became more and more introverted, spending days on end in his bedroom playing computer games. Will came with little expectation, and no experience of nature conservation. He lived miles away and needed to travel by bus with his parents to meet his care worker in Plymouth and then by train to Totnes where he was met by the Spring to Life team. This commute took him over one and a half hours each way. Will's engagement allowed him to become more independent, no longer relying on his parents or care worker to accompany him. When the 10 week placement was up, Will continued to come to volunteer days and is currently looking for a flat in Totnes, but still makes the 100 mile round trip twice a week as a Spring to Life volunteer mentor. He has taken part in mental health first aid, food hygiene and conflict resolution courses, is working towards a full level 2 National Diploma in environmental conservation moving him closer to the labour market and evidencing the skills he is gaining, whilst using his experience to inspire others.
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