Physical and nature-based activities improving mental health and supporting disabled people

This month, 87 communities across Wales are getting a share of more than £1 million, thanks to National Lottery players. 

The funding will help support and improve people’s wellbeing. Here are just some of the amazing projects that are making a difference to people’s everyday lives.

Grŵp Resilience CBC 

Two children petting a horse
Grwp Resilience CIC

Grŵp Resilience in Pembrokeshire has received a grant of £7,880 to fund the Greener Healing project, which will support people with mental health needs to take part in green social activity and evaluate how this affects them.

Vicky Moller, Chairman of Grŵp Resilience, a network of businesses, communities and organisations committed to working inclusively in the long-term interests of nature and people, explains:

“We found that many people with urgent social and mental wellbeing needs are happiest when they feel useful and doing practical things with others. This project will enrol those in need of greater wellbeing as volunteer researchers to help practically in community gardens and similar social ventures.

“We are working with people who have experienced damaging life experiences. They include people who have escaped war, mothers who have lost children, victims of long-standing abuse and young people damaged by life and substance abuse. They do not want to live as victims. They want to be valued, to be healers and to heal themselves. We are building greener healing from the grass roots.”

Leoni Jenkins, who is a volunteer at Grŵp Resilience and at Dezza’s Cabin, a self-help social needs charity providing peer to peer support, said:

“I have had troubles nobody should, I have experienced emotional pain that is worse than physical torture through the loss of my children. However, I refuse to be defined by this pain. My wish would be that we can help people learn the life skills that have very often kept me alive at my most troubling times.”

The City of Cardiff Council – Cyngor Dinas Caerdydd

A group of men in a hall
Cardiff Council

The City of Cardiff Council - Cyngor Dinas Caerdydd will use £4,360 to help homeless people improve their physical health, mental wellbeing and financial issues through ten-week programmes of boxing, mixed martial arts, and tailored life skills support.

Cardiff Council Supported Accommodation Officer and programme creator, Rob Green, said: “Naturally people’s mental wellbeing can be affected by being homeless. People can suffer with depression and anxiety so we’re seeing the positive effects this programme is having not only on people’s physical health but their mental wellbeing too. You can’t put a price on that.

“We’ve had some brilliant outcomes – some have gone on to work experience, some paid work. Another one of our residents has been transformed – he is doing incredibly well and is a real role model for other residents.

“I describe the programme as a metaphor for their lives. When they are in the ring or gym, they are learning perseverance and not to give up, which can help them to keep going towards ending their homeless journey.”

SVC (Skills and Volunteering Cymru)  

Two women celebrating
Skills and Volunteering Cymru

SVC (Skills and Volunteering Cymru), based in Pontypridd, is celebrating a grant of £9,975 to develop an in-person social group for adults in South East Wales with learning and/or physical disabilities, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Adrienne Earls, SVC Manager, explained:

“We are beyond ecstatic to have been awarded £9,975 from The National Lottery Community Fund Wales to fund our new project, ‘You’ve Got a Friend’. This is a partnership venture between SVC and Shiny Happy People, which will allow us to bring the joy of music into the lives of disabled adults living in South Wales. It will provide a safe space to meet friends, learn new skills and share our feelings, all whilst singing and dancing. We cannot wait to get started, massive thanks from all of us - diolch yn fawr!”

A boy playing
Rewild Play

Rewild Play 

Rewild Play in Newport applied for £10,000 to provide access to physical activity sessions for children with additional learning needs, disabilities or poor mental health.

Sabrina Pace and her son, Connor, attend sessions at Rewild Play. Sabrina explained the value of the project to her family:

“Meetings like this are priceless because I can take both my 6 year old and 15 year old, so the whole family gets a rare trip out without judgements. Keep up the amazing work!”

Challenge Wales 

A group of people on a sailing boat
Challenge Wales

Challenge Wales, a sail training charity in the Vale of Glamorgan, will help young people learn new skills and gain confidence through volunteering on sail boats with its £9,307.

Vicky Williams, Trustee at Challenge Wales, said, “We are really grateful for the funding, enabling the charity to support its volunteers in the amazing work that they do. Challenge Wales volunteers are the backbone of the charity, working with a diverse mix of young people who are facing many challenges in their day to day lives.

“The funding will provide more training opportunities and make volunteering onboard the charity’s boats more accessible. Thank you to the players of the National Lottery who are helping us to change the lives of young people in a positive way.”

Lamb’s Garden Enterprise Ltd 

A woman crafting
Lamb’s Garden Enterprise

Lamb’s Garden Enterprise Ltd in Denbighshire will use £9,977 to fund the Grow4It project, providing nature studies activities for long-term hospital in-patients to aid their recovery and improve health and wellbeing.

Elizabeth Anderson, a Dementia Support Worker, told us more about the project:

“Grow4it delivers a person-centred, individual hour of escapism for patients. Being in hospital means that elderly patients have limited access to the outdoors. A lot of these patients adore their gardens and embrace being outside. Having Grow4it coming in to discuss various topics brings the outside inside, or it will make an individual fall in love with the great outdoors again.

“It’s really hard to describe their faces and how much these sessions are well-loved. Patients are uplifted and eager to tell their fellow patients in the ward what they have learnt.”

The Elemental Adventures Project CIC 

A group of kids outdoors
Elemental Adventures Project

The Elemental Adventures Project CIC in Ceredigion will use £10,000 to offer outdoor nature-based learning for home educated children who are more isolated than their peers due to Covid-19.

Suzanne Riley from the project said, “We are really excited about our project growing and being able to support our community through challenging times. Thanks to the National Lottery for their support which helps to make it all possible.”

These are just some of the 87 projects across Wales which received a share of over £1 million this month. Read about them all here.

National Lottery players raise £36 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. To find out more about applying for a grant to help your community, visit www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/wales.

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