Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


The Idle Valley Recovery ecotherapy project is an award-winning therapeutic conservation and horticultural service for people in Bassetlaw experiencing mental health problems, which was initially funded by Ecominds, a partnership between Mind and the Big Lottery Fund.

Service users come from all over Bassetlaw and beyond, typically self-referred or via their GP, Community Practice Nurse, or social worker. Some come with PTSD, others with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or even no firm diagnosis at all.

We provide the opportunity for individuals to learn new skills and develop a pathway to achieving their recovery goals using practical ecotherapy techniques in a friendly, safe and healthy environment at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve, near Retford. Service users meet new people and gain confidence in a beautiful and inspiring natural setting, supported by trained, understanding staff and volunteers, whose aim is to help and encourage people to make the most of their time with the project. Service users learn new skills in gardening and conservation whilst benefiting from healthy exercise. The group grow organic vegetables which are used in the café within the Rural Learning Centre and sold to the public, take part in rural craft workshops using sustainably sourced materials they’ve grown and managed and use these skills to produce items and explore ways to use these products to generate funds for the project, and support the wider management of the nature reserves. From food growing, to woodland management, to beekeeping - we provide a range of inspiring activities.

Our services are having a significant positive impact on participants, with 88% reporting improvements to their mental wellbeing after attending the project. Feedback from participants tells us that the benefits are wide-reaching, including: gaining new experiences and skills, being part of something that is valued, non-hierarchical, non-clinical approach where everyone has something to offer, friendship and peer support, physical health improvements, increased confidence. We are also successful in working with individuals who have found it difficult to engage in traditional treatment options.

There is a growing amount of research into the therapeutic benefits of outdoor activity for mental health, showing that these activities can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate anxiety and depression. It also has the wider benefit of encouraging social inclusion and progression into further volunteering or work opportunities.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Location: Retford

It’s the community’s fantastic commitment and support for those who have worked too long, lost too much, or fought too hard.
It’s those who leave Recovery inspired and transformed.
It’s the progressive way NWT combines conservation with health and wellbeing so that Recovery can now hope to grow.
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