Introduction to Green Connections:
We tend to spend a lot of time lost in our thoughts, our worries, ‘to do’ lists and plans for the future. Sometimes it’s difficult to be in the present, to appreciate the now, and focus on just ‘being’ – But nature can help you to do that. Nature invites you to pause and look around you. It can help you to feel part of something bigger than you. It can help you to feel calmer and more positive.
Green Connections is our new ecotherapy or ‘greencare’ mental health service designed by Derbyshire Mind and Wellbeing at Whistlewood as part of our wider Enjoying Derbyshire programme. Green Connections aims to provide a retreat-type environment for you to support your mental health and wellbeing by experiencing the many benefits of getting outside, slowing down, and connecting with nature.
We run these Green Connections days once a month from our beautiful Whistlewood Site near Melbourne just outside of Derby.
Many studies have clearly shown that we benefit from being in natural places, being in contact with nature, and from looking after plants and animals. ‘Nature connectedness’ is the name of that relationship between people and the rest of nature, and it is shown to improve our mental wellbing.
“Nature connectedness is a measurable psychological construct that moves beyond contact with nature to an individual’s sense of their relationship with the natural world. We found that people who are more connected to nature tend to have greater eudaimonic wellbeing – meaning they are functioning well – and in particular have higher levels of self-reported personal growth.”– Prof. Miles Richardson, University of Derby
What are Green Connection days?
Green Connection days are a one-day experience of connection and relaxation in nature.
Along with our partners Wellbeing at Whistlewood, we are inviting you to step out of the city, slow down, and spend the whole day surrounded by nature and trees at our beautiful community site near Melbourne in South Derbyshire called Whistlewood Common, to see how nature benefits your mental wellbeing.
Our Green Connections days are a full day of slowing and spending time outside in a safe and peaceful location. You will be gently supported through a range of activities to connect with nature, connect with each other, and connect with yourselves and your own mental health. You will leave at the end of the day feeling more relaxed and knowledgeable about how you can continue to use the benefits of nature to support your mental health.
Whether it is raining or sunny, or even snowing, activities are provided in line with the changing seasons and include varying horticultural based activities, conservation activities, natural art and crafts, and ‘forest bathing’.
What is ‘Forest Bathing’?
Forest Bathing is a Japanese practice and is a process of relaxation; known in Japan as ‘shinrin yoku’. It involves a simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees, observing nature around you whilst breathing deeply. It has been shown to help adults de-stress and boost their health and wellbeing in a completely natural way.
Where is Green Connections?
Our Green Connection days take place at a beautiful and peaceful private community-owned site called Whistlewood. It is part of the wider National Forest.
The address for Whistlewood is:
Whistlewood Common, The Common, nr Melbourne, Derby, DE73 8DH
The sessions take place once a month on a Thursday. The day runs from 10am until 3pm, with an open invitation to then stay for a relaxed cuppa and a chat until 4pm.
Getting here by Car or Bus:
Whistlewood is located near to Melbourne in South Derbyshire. It takes about 20 minutes to drive here from Derby City Centre. Whistlewood’s track is almost opposite the Dovesite Business Site. Look out for the ‘Animal Farm’ sign.
The Number 2 bus service operates between Derby and Swadlincote and stops just outside – The stop is called ‘The Common’.
Who is Green Connections for?
Green Connections has been designed to benefit adults who are:
- over 18 years old
- living in Derby City or surrounding areas
- experiencing low mood or depression, anxiety, stress, grief and loss, low self-esteem, or feeling alone and isolated (particularly as a result of lockdown)
- able to spend a day largely outdoors, in all weathers
We have up to 20 spaces available on each monthly full day session.
We will be using questionnaires to measure potential improvements to wellbeing and nature connectedness outcomes using WEMWBS and the University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Scale.
We expect to show that time spent immersed in nature in this way, plus through the provision of further activities and ideas to continue to do from home, as well as signposting to other nature based local groups and volunteering opportunities, has a marked improvement on mental wellbeing.
Learn more about Ecotherapy outcomes here: Mind – Ecotherapy
How to Request a Place on an upcoming Green Connections Day:
If you feel you or your client meets our eligibility criteria for this service please complete the appropriate referral form below and we will be in touch with an offer of a date when a place becomes available for you/them:
Professionals – Refer your client
(Derby City Social Prescribers; Local Area Coordinators; Mental Health Practitioners; and so on)
Are you working with a client(s) that could benefit from a place on one of our Green Connections days?
Please complete this form and we will be in touch with some offers of potential dates:
Self Referral – Refer yourself
(Derby City Residents, aged over 18, with a mild-moderate mental health condition as described above)
We have places that are available for Derby City residents who feel they would benefit from attending a Green Connections day themselves.
If you are interested, please visit our Activity Calendar to choose your preferred date(s).
Our Partners: ‘Wellbeing at Whistlewood’
We are pleased to be working with our Partners Anne and Helen from Wellbeing at Whistlewood for this Green Connections service.
Anne Bramley is a Forest Therapies Practitioner and Certified Forest Bathing Guide. Helen Saunders is a Certified Forest Bathing Guide.
Learn more about Wellbeing at Whistlewood by visiting their website here: www.wellbeingatwhistlewood.co.uk