Feel Good in the Forest with Forestry England

At Rohan, we’ve always championed the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outside. Through our Gift Your Gear initiative we enact our belief that everyone should have access to the great outdoors, and the kit they need to enjoy it.

Forestry England share this belief. Their new social prescribing project, Feel Good in the Forest, follows the green care model, which means it works towards participant-oriented outcomes by removing financial goals and instead focusing on supporting visitor’s mental and physical health.

As a social prescribing project, Feel Good in the Forest takes self-referrals, as well as referrals from a range of local agencies, including the NHS, GP surgeries and social care services. This way, the project targets marginalised communities who might otherwise miss out on the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities, whether they’ve identified themselves or have been identified elsewhere.

Currently being piloted in Chopwell and Thames Chase Forests, each Feel Good in the Forest session starts with an outdoor activity led by a Leader with at least Level 2 qualifications in health and fitness leadership. Through these free, weekly walking sessions, Forestry England aims to support their participants in becoming more active, building confidence and hopefully alleviating symptoms of long-term health conditions, by creating a safe space in the great outdoors.

Anyone who would like to improve their wellbeing can self-refer themselves to the Feel Good in the Forest project; current participants include retirees, veterans, and people off sick from work due to their mental health, all of whom are finding their weekly walks worthwhile. For an informal chat to find out more about getting involved, Forestry England recommend contacting one of the project’s coordinators. Lucy (for Chopwell Wood sessions) or Rachael (for Thames Chase sessions) can talk to you all about getting started with Feel Good in the Forest.

Although still in the pilot phase, participant feedback so far shows how appreciated, and needed, Feel Good in the Forest is. Forestry England are always looking for new ways to enhance their visitors’ experiences and make movement fun in the forest, so they’re open to ideas on ways to expand this project, and are already planning to add yoga, seated exercise and cycling in the near future.

Providing what visitors need is an important part of the Feel Good in the Forest project. Each walk is followed by a social get-together, usually involving tea and biscuits, to make sure everyone can benefit not only from a rejuvenating walk through the forest, but also from the joy that comes from meeting and building connections with new people.

Quotes from participants so far include

“I am so glad I came along today, just doing the walk today I feel less anxious”
“I was very anxious about meeting new people due to my mental health but I felt quite relaxed once I was able to engage with people socially”
“I had a really good time. From start to finish it was really good interacting with new people. How did I feel before the day? A little bit anxious. And afterwards? Absolutely amazing! Happy and positive.”
“It was a pleasant change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle. Good to be in nature.”

We’re proud to support Forestry England’s Feel Good in the Forest project, because we understand how beneficial spending time in the great outdoors can be, especially when you’re wearing the right kit. That’s where our Gift Your Gear initiative comes in: we’ll be proving donations of useable outdoor kit to Forestry England, so that they can make sure all their participants are fully kitted out each week, ready to get stuck in and enjoy their walk together. 

Feel Good in the Forest is open to any individual who is looking to improve their health and wellbeing. If you’d like to find out more, you can visit the webpage here. For more information on Rohan’s Gift Your Gear initiative, have a read of this page on our website.

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