Mental health support outdoors at Leamington wood

An ecotherapy session at Foundry Wood in Leamington.
An ecotherapy session at Foundry Wood in Leamington.

A woman who discovered that being outdoors gave her relief from her mental health problems has set up a new ecotherapy group at a Leamington community wood.

Foundry Wood has secured £10,000 of funding to run the weekly sessions, which have been created by Teresa Johnston.

Participants take part in group outdoor activities. Teresa said: “I was able to still the mental chatter by focusing my attention on the natural environment.

“One in four people experience a mental health problem in any given year and I wanted others who were suffering to benefit too.”

The group aims to provide an environment that is friendly, welcoming and non-judgemental for people who may be suffering as a result of isolation.

Around 15 people, aged from in their teens to in their 60s, are already attending the sessions, which take place at the wood off Prince’s Drive on Tuesdays from 10am to 3pm. Many of them are battling depression, addictions or feeling isolated from society.

Activities include woodland maintenance tasks, a shared lunch and social time.

The funding from Awards for All - a Big Lottery fund - was obtained by ARC CIC, which set up Foundry Wood and its Friends group. This was secured after ARC obtained £2,000 from South Leamington Community Forum to pilot the scheme in 2015 and a further £2,000 from the Warwick District Council Small Grants Scheme to scale it up in early 2016.

The project has also received £250 worth of food and drink from the Heart of England Co-operative Society, which is being spent on providing hot drinks, biscuits and a light lunch during sessions.

Kath Pasteur, co-facilitator of the group, said: “I am delighted there is further funding for this worthwhile activity. We have a diverse mix of people attending and we would like more people to benefit from the group.”

The ecotherapy group has established links with organisations including Mind, ESHWorks and addiction recovery services. Anyone who thinks they or someone they know may benefit from the sessions can visit www.foundrywood.co.uk/ecotherapy or email kath@arccic.co.uk