In the first project of its kind to be funded in England, Exmoor National Park Authority secured 3 years’ funding from Devon and Somerset Health and Wellbeing Boards in 2014. Taking the Five Ways to Wellbeing as its starting point, this project aims to demonstrate how being in the natural environment enables those small changes in an individual’s behaviour that contribute to improving physical and mental health. And key to this is building the opportunities and capacity to support getting people to visit, connect and enjoy Exmoor National Park.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing – Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give – focus on the simple activities we all can do in our everyday lives. This approach is used by health organisations, schools and community projects across the globe to help people and organisations take action to improve individuals’ wellbeing.
But the Moor to Enjoy project is not just about influencing individuals’ behaviour. Key to the project’s success is the ability to establish a network of health and social care professionals, environmental organisations, local communities, individuals, families and support groups. This will ensure the knowledge, understanding and facilitation required to get people who would not normally consider visiting the National Park into the natural environment can be sustainable and self-supporting. And not forgetting the need to build capacity in the first place by organising events, such as local fundraising, leading walks, arranging group visits etc.
Fortunately Keeley Rolfe (the project co-ordinator) and the team are a hardy bunch! Halfway through the project, working across Bridgwater, Taunton, Wiveliscombe, Barnstaple, Tiverton:
- nearly 300 individuals, of all ages from under 18s to over 70s, have been involved
- 15 groups have engaged with the project and
- 13 groups have had supported visits to Exmoor National Park as a result of this engagement.
And when asked what they thought of their involvement in the project:
- 96% enjoyed the experience
- 83% had their spirits lifted
- 74% were more relaxed
- 73% were more sociable
- 29% said they were more physically active
The results so far are highlighting the on-going success of the project. And it’s expanding, with the recent launch of Exmoor’s Green Prescription Scheme/Wellbeing programme. If you want to know more about the project, you can contact Keeley via our Moor to Enjoy webpage or Twitter.
And there’s no better way to finish our article than by letting some of our participants speak for themselves:
“Every experience has had positive and profound impacts on the health and well-being of our families…. We have been allowed to explore an area of beauty with security and are now becoming independent users of Exmoor as a school, as individual families and as a community. Thank you!”
“Exmoor is easy to get to, everyone seems happy and it’s hard to feel stressed because there’s nothing around to be stressed about.”
“Has showed me an insight into how easy healthy cooking is. Something that I can take home with me and build on.”
“Loved today, what a brilliant idea, it made me happy.”
“I have really enjoyed the whole experience, travelling here was even beautiful. The environment, the company, the ingredients, the learning, the atmosphere – all wonderful.”
“As a result of being part of Moor to Enjoy I have gained confidence in addressing wellbeing issues with the group, have more access to the resources available to them on Exmoor, have more ideas of health and wellbeing related activities for the group and feel supported by Keeley [the project coordinator].”