Woodland Confidence Programme – Newground Community Grant programme

Friends of Manor Fields Park successfully secured £440 from the Newground Community Grant programme, towards their 8-week Woodland Confidence project aimed at the local and wider community. They secured a further £440 from Health Small Grants providing them with a total of £880 to deliver the project

The project began on Wednesday 15th September and is due to finish on Thursday 11th November. The main aim of the project is to raise levels of confidence in adults, to improve participants mental health and wellbeing to enable them to move on into positive outcomes, whilst learning skills in the outdoors. This project has been so successful that a previous course member is now assisting on this project so that she can deliver a similar course in her neighbourhood.

As part of the project, sessions take place in an outdoor classroom setting within Manor Fields Park. Sessions are delivered by a qualified forest school tutor to the seven participants that are taking part. The tutor, has adapted content based on his previous experiences, tailoring the sessions towards participants on Woodland Confidence. Participants have learnt a range of skills, tools and techniques and gained positive personal experiences to help improve their mental health and wellbeing.

When the project finishes the outside classroom will remain as it is so that the local community can access it and become more involved in the care and upkeep of the park’s green spaces.  It will also be accessible and safe for other community members to make use of it, such as home- schooling families.

The natural environment has enabled people to feel more comfortable and open up and talk about issues affecting them. There is a mutual level of respect within the group and people really listen to each other. Most sessions have included mindful practices which have built up to longer meditative periods and by the end of the project all participants will be able to assemble a shelter, build a fire and cook a communal feast without help from the leader, who is just there for guidance.

Rose Tomson, Woodland Wellbeing Course Leader said, “We have worked with particular providers and the park ranger to be able to make the sessions more comfortable and accessible. Some participants have been working hard outside the course to practise skills they are learning.  One regular participant revealed that he has been watching YouTube videos of bushcraft knots and learning them at home, another said he now looks at the park in an entirely different way, seeing plants that can be eaten or used medicinally and has tuned into the soundscape.”

The project has also benefited the local and wider community by:

  • Creating volunteering opportunities with Friends of Manor Fields Park group
  • Providing volunteering opportunities to help maintain the local park
  • Allowing scout groups to access the classroom
  • Increased involvement with the community allotment.
  • Creating links with other support groups

Diane Cairns Friends of Manor Fields Park, Volunteer Trustee said: “Projects such as Woodland Confidence are beneficial to the local community as well as to the people they are aimed at. This, particular project helps individuals gain confidence and new skills in a warm and safe environment. Overall, Woodland Confidence has been very beneficial, and the outdoor classroom, which is being used, will be of use to the local community for many years to come.”

Participants have now been signposted to other activities in the community such as Take Part in the Garden Self Care group, community allotment’s, healthy cooking, Wellbeing craft sessions and a range of local volunteering including the Green Estate Ltd volunteer group at Manor Fields Park and supporting the Friends of Manor Fields park.

Belle Paterson, Community Development Officer at Newground Together said: “Although the project is focused on teaching skills needed in the outdoors, participants have also improved their personal resilience and learnt wider skills. There has been access to support for further training opportunities and the chance to volunteer. The project has seen a ripple effect where skills from this experience are passed on to family members, friends and the wider community.”

Manor Field Park is located 2 miles outside of Sheffield City Centre and is in close proximity to a Together Housing Group Estate. The Friends of Manor Fields Park were set up as a group because some people wanted to make sure that this great space became more widely known and enjoyed by others. They meet monthly and work to link in with nature activity, skill sharing, peer support and guided support which allows individuals to reach their full potential, thus improving quality of life. By raising awareness and creating new connections individuals are encouraged to grow in confidence and become involved in their local community.

The Newground Community Grant programme is open to resident groups and grass root community organisations in the North of England. For more information contact grants@newground.co.uk