A successful, twelve-week pilot project has helped people in East Lancashire to improve both their mental and physical health.
The People Enjoying Nature (PEN) project is an outreach project at Pendle Hill LP which offers individuals who are dealing with mental health issues and social isolation to take part in a number of supported activities and learn new skills. The project was delivered in partnership by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Restart Team and the Forest of Bowland and included a programme of activities taking place between March and October 2017.
The overall aim of the project was to restore, enhance and conserve the landscape of Pendle Hill by providing the participants with an opportunity to build social networks and improve mental health and wellbeing. Each session took between 12-15 participants and included a weekly trip to Pendle Hill, wildflower planting, arts in the environment and geocaching.
The pilot programme led by the Forest of Bowland was a great success, engaging with 30 individuals who had a lot of positive feedback about the sessions. Those who took part said they would recommend it to family or friends and were enthusiastic about further PEN opportunities
Elaine Butt, Coordinator, Service User Development Team East Lancashire Community Restart at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said:
“Getting outdoors can have lots of benefits on our mental and physical health and here in East Lancashire we’re really lucky to have such beautiful surroundings on our doorstep including Pendle Hill. The PEN project aimed to support people to get together and socialise but also to get outdoors and enjoy activities that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
“The pilot was a huge success and all of those who took part thoroughly enjoyed it. We are hopeful about the future of the PEN project.”
One individual who took part in the project said:
“Being outside makes me feel a lot, I suffer from claustrophobia which means I am always over thinking when I am inside. The PEN sessions provided me with the opportunity to get outdoors, which stopped me overthinking and reduced my anxiety.
“I also have COPD, however was really surprised that on the Navigation Skills PEN session I didn’t suffer from it very much, even though we were walking throughout the entire session. Being outside in the fresh air and taking part in an activity meant I didn’t think about my condition.
“The sessions also gave me the opportunity to do stereotypically masculine activities, such as building bird boxes, which I have really enjoyed. Many years ago I complete a course in horticulture and so some of the sessions have allowed me to revisit previous knowledge – particularly remembering Latin names of certain species!
“The PEN sessions have given me the opportunity to develop friendships with different people of different ages, and build on relationships I have developed with people from the Good Life Project.”
Community Restart is a forward thinking service that is dedicated to improving quality of life, promoting opportunities and improving the outcomes for people across Lancashire. They work in partnership with people who access the service, carers, mental health specialists, employment providers and environmental agencies to provide the opportunities and community connections for individuals to improve their health and wellbeing.
For further information about the team please visit www.lancashirecare.nhs.uk/Community-Restart and for more information about the PEN project please visit http://www.forestofbowland.com/Pendle-Hill-LP.