“I look forward to our Thursday lunchtime group all week. It is truly a focus for fun, laughter and friendship. It brings diverse people together from the local area and keeps us from isolation.”
Offering nature connections to all ages of the community in their immediate vicinity is one of our passions. Our Erleigh Elders green prescribing project created ‘a great ambience’ of mutual support and growth by connecting an older generation to Maiden Erleigh Nature reserve.
Situated in an urban area on the East of Reading, Maiden Erleigh Nature Reserve is an established Wildlife Heritage Site. It has a mix of ancient and secondary woodland, with a large established pond and wetland area supporting a vast range of wildlife including hundreds of butterflies, moths and many varieties of birds, fungi and trees.
“The group gives me an opportunity to meet other people as I spend a lot of time on my own and it alleviates my sense of loneliness and boredom. The environmental craft aspect is what attracted me to the class.”
Many older people in the surrounding community are at risk of social isolation with few opportunities to meet and engage with others in a meaningful, regular way. They face poor mental health, loneliness and anxiety about risks in the outdoors. In practice, they have few opportunities for appropriate exercise.
Thanks to funding from The Earley Charity we delivered a 6 week project. We tracked down a local elderly baker and commissioned her to supply a delicious homemade cake each week. We were hosted by the indoor cosy 'Interpretation Centre' beside the lake and introduced crafts, chosen to be accessible to all abilities such as watercolour painting on leaves and making seasonal decorations. Afterwards, the group walked beside the lake and fed the ducks together.
“I now look out for the different birds and butterflies I’ve learnt about on my walks in the reserve”.
“This group has inspired me to revisit ways I can get back into the community after a serious illness. ”
Our community led approach, encouraged group members to facilitate activities, learn new skills and gain confidence through new experiences.
“Lovely to have a practical class with other people. We cover such a wide variety of topics and it gives us a chance to share our own skills. ”
It is clear from the responses of our survey at the end of the project, that the sessions became a really important part of participant’s lives. The activities fulfilled them and they made social connections.
“I really look forward to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere every Thursday. I sometimes bring my husband for walks around the reserve now too.”
“This group has encouraged me to try new skills at crafting etc. It has also allowed me to learn about the local history of the area. I have now formed friends from our wonderful group.”