Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

A great eight months in community inclusion

Posted: December 18, 2014 at 19:09 pm Author: Claire Goulding

The role of the Community Inclusion team is to enable a greater number of people from under-represented groups to experience the arboretum and to connect with trees.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund Community Inclusion Officer, Claire Goulding, is working with older and vulnerable adults at risk of exclusion because of social isolation, lack of transport and mental health conditions.

There are three over-arching programmes:

  1. Facilitated Visits
  2. Outreach
  3. Community Coppice

Some of the key aims and objectives…

  • To grow participants’ confidence in their own ability
  • To encourage individuals to share a positive experience, working together
  • Increase in physical stamina and health
  • Learn about our tree collection to explore and discover some medicinal and aromatic trees in our collection
  • For participants to grow therapeutic connection with Westonbirt Arboretum and trees in general as spaces for personal rejuvenation and relaxation.

Key achievements this year…

  • The ‘Westonbirt Wellbeing Programme’ has been a natural development from earlier pilot Community Coppice group from Nelson Trust this year, now working with Nelson Trust Women’s Service as a now stand alone therapeutic programme. This programme has incorporated a reflective diary looking to evidence the impact the activities are having on the women’s mental health and wellbeing
  • New partnerships with NHS social prescribing, probation services, and brain injury clinics in development
  • New marketing design to attract participants.

Snapshot of groups I have built partnerships with…

  • Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Memory Cafes
  • Bristol Drugs Project
  • Turning Point Wiltshire Substance Misuse Service
  • Nelson Trust Women’s Service
  • The Churn Project
  • Gloucestershire Rural Community Council
  • Stroud District Council
  • Hazlewood Housing Association
  • Fairshare Community Action Charity
  • The Hollies residential care home
  • Ilsom House residential care home

Main activities trailed this year with a range of adult community groups…

  • Nature printing – using an old botanic printing technique exploring different specimens in the collection
  • Aromatherapy and trees - to learn about the aromatic and medicinal properties of some trees in our collection and from around the world by making an aromatherapy cosmetic balm and taking part in a led therapeutic hand massage workshop
  • Community Coppice Project: learn about Westonbirt’s past connection with coppicing and current woodland management practice
  • Mindfulness and sensory walks out in the arboretum
  • Hurdle-making and green wood products such as spatulas, butter knives and spoons
  • Natural craft activities such as foraging, bushfire cooking, fire lighting making drawing charcoal, woodland mobiles and clay sculptures
  • Multi-sensory outreach programme that taking our interactive reminiscent activities out to dementia groups and elderly care homes and encouraging individuals to share their anecdotes and connections with trees.

Participants figures to date from May – December 2014…

  • 188 participants have visited Westonbirt Arboretum as part of a facilitated visit programme
  • 260 participants have taken part in the offsite outreach programme
  • 111 participants have taken part in the Community Coppice woodland management programmes .

Find out more about our work bringing new audiences to Westonbirt...