National Park initiative to help people’s mental and physical health by immersing themselves in nature

South Downs National Park Looking down South Downs Way from Amberley to Washington by Daniel Greenwood

Taking time out to appreciate the joys of nature

An innovative scheme to help people’s wellbeing by immersing in the landscape and history of the South Downs National Park has been launched.

Timescape will encourage people to take “time out” and get involved in nature-based arts and crafts, as well as enjoy walking trails in the tranquil surrounds of the South Downs.

The project will be based at Amberley Museum in West Sussex and Butser Ancient Farm, near Waterlooville, in Hampshire.

Twelve sessions will take place at each venue and activities will include printing, pottery, carving, weaving and felting – all inspired by the incredible heritage of the locations. The sessions, which are free, will run at Amberley from February to July and at Butser from July to September.

Kate Drake, health and wellbeing officer for the South Downs National Park, said: “We’re really excited to launch Timescape for 2023 and offer these two wonderful venues for these wellness sessions.

“We know connecting with National Parks can do wonders for mental and physical health. The growing evidence shows that people who have accessed green spaces report a reduction in stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression and this is certainly reflected in the testimonials we’ve had from similar projects in the National Park.

“These Timescape sessions are particularly tailored for people who may be experiencing issues such as stress, isolation, loneliness, anxiety or depression, and we hope to hear from people right across the region. These venues are both bursting with history, so it’s almost like stepping out of your busy life and being transported to another time when you visit them!”

National Park’s first Health and Wellbeing Strategy

The project, now in its second year, is part of the National Park’s “natural health” strategy. The National Park’s first Health and Wellbeing Strategy was published two years ago, setting out a vision to connect more people with nature to help improve both mental and physical health.

The plans include working with GPs, healthcare and community-based providers to deliver more opportunities for “green social prescribing”. A GP or social prescriber may refer a patient for non-clinical services that boost health, such as walking or cycling in the South Downs, becoming involved in arts-based activities or surveying wildlife.

The long-term strategy also identifies priority areas in the region where the Authority will work with communities, partners and healthcare providers to help more people discover the wellness benefits of the National Park. Anyone interested in taking part in Timescape can email [email protected]

Referrals from healthcare providers and their client groups are also welcome.


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