Grass roots project helps youngsters’ mental health

Community company Nature Unlimited was awarded almost �34,000 by the People's Lottery fund for its wild about wellbeing programme.
Community company Nature Unlimited was awarded almost �34,000 by the People's Lottery fund for its wild about wellbeing programme.

Young people across the Borders will have the chance to get up close and personal with nature, while improving their mental health, thanks to a five figure lottery grant.

Community company Nature Unlimited beat off competition from thousands of applicants to be awarded £33,688 from the People’s Project lottery fund.

It will now roll out its pioneering Wild About Wellbeing project in Peebles and Hawick after already helping dozens of girls from Galashiels.

Project coordinator Jan Barr explained: “The Wild About Wellbeing programme is a unique early intervention for young people suffering from, or at risk of developing, mental health issues.

“We create a community for well-being, in a natural woodland setting, where the young people feel safe and where they engage in various activities, while building social skills, emotional intelligence and physical skills.

“The girls are supported to become more resilient mentally, emotionally and physically, and are able to transfer these skills to everyday life so that they can face adversity with a more positive and confident attitude.”

The programme aims to increase wellbeing by helping participants to build confidence and manage relationships, while taking part in nature activities ranging from pond dipping, tree climbing and bushcraft skills to cooking on the fire and relaxing in hammocks.

From 60 UK-wide winners, the project was one of three in the ITV Border region to gain the most public votes and share a slice of £150,000.

The cash injection means, from the next academic year, young people can be referred to the programme by Peebles and Hawick high schools, as well as Galashiels Academy.

Ms Barr added: “We are delighted that we’ll be able to give much needed support to many more young people in the Borders. We hope that this funding will also lead to wider recognition of the impact of our work so that it can be sustainably funded in the future.”