Trio of charities grow nature-focused partnership for mental health awareness week

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Three Midlands charities are joining forces for Mental Health Awareness Week to launch four Wellbeing Walks for people to enjoy for free. Spearheaded by the region’s leading mental health consortium Living Well UK, the Wellbeing Walks will feature guided meditations by Living Well Consortium members, Spring to Life CIC and The Springfield Project, perfectly paired to routes hand-picked by Birmingham Museums Trust and the Heart of England Forest.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is themed around ‘nature and environment’, following evidence from the Mental Health Foundation’s ongoing research into the coronavirus pandemic, which found that access to nature has been one of the main ways people have supported their mental health during lockdowns. Now, with restrictions lifting, Living Well UK is keen to ensure that people still remember – and make the most of – the wellbeing benefits that getting outdoors can have.

Working with Birmingham Museums Trust, whose successful Walk Birmingham book debuted in 2019, and the charity creating and conserving England’s largest new native broadleaf woodland, the Heart of England Forest, Living Well Consortium members, Spring to Life CIC and The Springfield Project, have recorded guided meditations, specifically to be enjoyed on nature walks.

 Commenting on the collaboration, Ben Howells, the CEO of Living Well UK, said:

“Over the past 12 months, more of us than ever before have realised the restorative power of the nature for the mind, body, and soul, so we couldn’t be more thrilled to launch these Wellbeing Walks with Birmingham Museums Trust and the Heart of England Forest.

“The last year has had a huge impact on mental health and the knock-on effect of this will be felt long beyond the pandemic. As we navigate what the future looks like, we know that it is crucial that resources are made available for people to build resilience, through solutions like self-help, meditation, and physical exercise. We hope that the debut of our Wellbeing Walks, which combine all three of these, will help people during Mental Health Awareness Week and long into the future!”

Focusing on breathing and mindfulness, the guided meditations make the perfect walking companion for those looking to explore nature. All four routes picked out by the Heart of England Forest and Birmingham Museums Trust are easy enough for beginners to enjoy, but also have lots to see and discover to keep even the most well-versed walkers interested.

What’s more, one of the Heart of England Forest’s included routes – the Morgrove Coppice trail – is fully accessible, specially designed to be suitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs and people with limited mobility.

Toby Fisher, Community Engagement Manager, from the Heart of England Forest commented:

“The Forest has remained opened throughout the lockdowns, and we have seen a large increase in the number of visitors finding comfort and joy in the natural environment. Whether you’re a keen hiker or more of an ambler, these routes and meditations are perfect for finding your feet in nature and freeing your mind as you go. We’re so pleased to be part of this initiative, alongside Living Well UK and Birmingham Museums Trust, and we hope that many across the Midlands make the most of these Wellbeing Walks.”

All the Wellbeing Walks will be available for the duration of Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond, so even if people don’t have the chance to get out during the week, they can always save them for later. Furthermore, if the Wellbeing Walks whet your appetite and leave you looking for more, Living Well UK’s Virtual Therapy Room has tonnes of physical therapy options for you to try for free.

“We’re excited to be part of this collaboration for Mental Health Awareness Week, helping people to discover new and beautiful nature walks, right on their doorstep. We’re so lucky to have such incredible spaces in the West Midlands, as highlighted in our  Walk Birmingham book and, with partnerships like this one, I hope we can help encourage people to find a place to recharge in nature,” concluded Alex Nicholson-Evans, Commercial Director at Birmingham Museums Trust. To download the Wellbeing Walks, complete with routes and guided meditations, head to https://livingwellconsortium.com/mental-health-awareness-week-wellbeing-walks/.

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