Nature Connections sessions have seen Wildlife Trust staff from the Great Fen team going into the community and engaging with people who otherwise would have little interaction with the natural world, through mobility issues or health issues. Mainly visiting care homes and often working with dementia sufferers, the team have also been to the Stroke Recovery coffee mornings and Dementia Cafés. These visits have been running for some time, but the Tesco Bags of Help funding has enabled employing casual staff to develop and run more sessions, as well as the purchase of equipment.
The sessions involve taking natural objects into the homes, for example scent bags with natural herbs, 'feely' bags with cones, stones, shells etc, and greenery such as plants and leaves from the Great Fen. Discussions about childhood memories help engage the residents reminisce about their experiences in the outdoors as children, while simple crafts using natural materials, planting seeds or plug plants, making colourful images using leaves, petals etc all help create a sense of wellbeing. The positive response from these sessions have had a profound impact on the staff and volunteers delivering them.
One care home worker said: ‘The Wildlife Trust ladies included each resident and family member into the afternoon, and also made sure that everyone was given a chance to speak. We would like to thank the Trust for joining us and delivering such a wonderful afternoon.’
The purchase of resources was possible, for example table top magnification lenses to assist those with poor sight, plus a large floor-scale size artistic impression map of the Great Fen area, which helped connect people with the landscape by identifying where they are - a real visual aid connecting people with the landscape.
Another Nature Connection session was with the Blind Association on the topic of bird song. To convey the different birds that they were talking about, the team used wooden replica birds’ eggs which proved absorbing and engaging; the group were amazed at the size of each egg, and from these they could ascertain which birds were larger. The team took real pleasure in delivering all the sessions, gaining a lot from delivering them as well as those who attended.