Nature for Health: Back Up and Running
As the nation faces increasing challenges to keep healthy, one of the best, most simple medicines is to get out into the natural environment. Denbighshire is home to high quality green space, and not just in the mountains. Denbighshire Countryside Service manages a number of community green spaces with close connections to urban areas, where the Nature for Health programme has been running since 2018. The Nature for Health project provides opportunities to get outdoors through healthy walks and wildlife conservation activities, as well as craft sessions, in Rhyl, Prestatyn, Denbigh, Llangollen and Corwen. The Covid-19 pandemic meant volunteer activities were put on hold for the majority of last year, but since many of the sessions were restarted in May this year, they have been going from strength to strength. The groups have seen incredible successes seeing people tackle health issues, become more active, overcome bereavements, and above all, make new friends.
The nature and conservation sessions in Rhyl and Prestatyn have focussed on maintaining existing projects, including keeping vegetation at bay around areas of recently planted trees, and seeing that wildflower areas at Coed Y Morfa in Prestatyn continue to flourish. Sessions in Denbigh have recently restarted, with conservation volunteering opportunities at Mount Wood. In Rhyl and Prestatyn, The volunteers made miniature herb gardens, which they decorated and took home with them. Participants also enjoyed constructing elevated bird feeding stations for Brickfields Pond in Rhyl. More recently, we ran willow weaving workshops in Rhyl and Prestatyn, and all who attended enjoyed making their own Catalonian tension tray! Volunteers learnt about the traditional agricultural practice of scything, and cut one of our meadows in Rhyl, led by a local instructor. Furthermore, during a guided tour of the Prestatyn Wetlands, our Grazing Project Coordinator explained the process of livestock checking with Belted Galloway cattle. Through this, volunteers have gained valuable skills which could be applied to future work opportunities.
An ongoing Art in Nature project has been very successful in introducing new people to the project through wildlife-themed craft sessions. Cyanotype printing with leaves was a particular success. The Let’s Walk Denbighshire sessions are now back up and running every Friday, coordinated by Community Wellbeing Officer Katrina Day. Though taking part in the sessions, participants have seen improvements in their health, including combatting Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack and improving mental wellbeing.
Steve Fenner has been volunteering with the Nature for Health project since its beginning, having been involved with work at Coed Y Morfa in Prestatyn since 2017. More recently, he has attended volunteer sessions including scything and willow weaving (pictured), as well as many conservation tasks at Coed Y Morfa. “I like getting out, meeting new people and doing something physically active. It’s nice having something within the town that is easily accessible.”
We have many activities planned for the rest of the summer, including bird and bat walks, another scything session in Denbigh, more arts sessions and conservation tasks around the sites. Let’s Walk Denbighshire will continue to go ahead: it’s a great way to explore your local area while meeting new people. Why not join us at a future Nature for Health session? Contact NatureForHealth@denbighshire.gov.uk (NaturErBuddIechyd@sirddinbych.gov.uk) or 01824 712757 for information on opportunities in Rhyl, Prestatyn, Denbigh, Llangollen and Corwen.
The Nature for Health Project is a collaboration between Denbighshire Countryside Service and Denbighshire Housing. The Art in Nature events are a project collaboration between Community Arts Denbighshire Leisure, The Carers Trust, Dementia Friendly Denbigh and the Nature for Health Project. These sessions have been funded by Dementia Aware Community Led Grant DVSC.
Claudia Smith (Countryside Ranger) and Katrina Day (Community Wellbeing Officer), Denbighshire Countryside Service