Hidden away in the Chelmsford countryside is the Wilderness Foundation, an organisation that offers nature based therapy and outreach programmes to vulnerable children, young people and adults.
The Wilderness Foundation runs projects that support vulnerable groups, including projects that support young people who are at risk, those who have experienced trauma or have behavioural issues or those who are survivors or witnesses to domestic abuse.
The VVU helps fund the Blossom Project, which, using nature therapy helps participants learn strategies for self-care, supports teenagers and young children to learn to cope with past experiences in a healthy way, and provide tools and techniques to prevent them repeating the cycles of abuse and violence they may have experienced.
Wandering through the 400-acre site it is easy to see why the courses are so successful. There is a feeling of tranquillity, of safety, of calm. The site has woodland, an allotment area, fire circle and space for bush craft, art and meditation.
The Blossom Project was co-created by domestic abuse survivors; sessions run for children, women, teenagers, young women, young men and women. Referrals are taken from agencies such as social services, but people can self-refer.
Working in small groups of no more than ten, one day a week for eight weeks, participants work with trained outdoor therapists on resilience building – this could be learning to build healthy relationships, development of boundaries, trauma support.
The women’s group began in April and in their last session they used natural materials to create trees which illustrated their lives and experiences (pictured).
The ability to immerse in nature allows conversation to start and friendships and connections are made within the group. The natural environment providing inspiration and removing or reducing feelings of pressure and anxiety.
Being surrounded by the woodland, countryside and natural environment means participants are in a neutral safe space, the site providing the backdrop to discussion, opening up and unity.
The project currently has space on the young men and adolescents’ groups: for more information visit https://wildernessfoundation.org.uk/domestic-violence-recovery/