South Yorkshire woodland event aims to boost mental health

A woodland-based nature event designed to boost mental health is to be held in Barnsley in July.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 23rd June 2016, 10:05 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd June 2016, 10:08 am

The Wombwell Woods Weekend has been organised to introduce people to their natural surroundings as a way of looking after their mental wellbeing.

People are being invited to take part in activities in the woods at Wombwell, just off the Dearne Valley Parkway, that will show them ways in which nature and creative arts can help them to feel positive and uplifted.

The event will take place on Saturday July 30 and Sunday 31 and is being supported by the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP), which is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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To deliver the weekend, the DVLP are working in partnership with Barnsley-based Creative Recovery, a charity which uses art and creativity to grow community spirit. They will lead the craft activities through their Uplift project, which uses art to boost happiness.

Family activities in the woods will include traditional Romany bush crafts, bug hunts, campfire songs and stories, music from a live Latin band, art stations and den building. Creative workshops will teach participants how to craft woodland instruments, and how to cast pewter using hand tools.

The weekend will be themed around birds, and the DVLP will be helping visitors discover more about them, and other woodland creatures, through educational talks and nature walks.

There will also be a special costumed ‘walkabout’ performance, titled The Tree Sparrow’s Tale, which will guide families around the bird’s woodland home, telling tales of loss, courage and friendship.

The Wombwell Woods Weekend took place for the first time last year, when over 250 people attended from the local area.

Roseanna Burton, community officer at the DVLP, said: “We were amazed to discover how many people who attended last year’s event had never been into the woods before, despite living so close for years. This event is a great way of encouraging families to reconnect with the natural surroundings on their doorstep, and learn how nature can have a positive effect on their mental health.

“Research increasingly shows that psychological issues such as stress, anxiety and depression - as well as general mental health and wellbeing - can all be improved by spending time in the great outdoors. We had some lovely feedback from people who attended the first event, which shows that nature can be very powerful - and it’s completely free to get out and enjoy it.”

Hannah Parrott, 28, from Barnsley, volunteered at the event last year with her friend Gemma Lockwood, 31. She said: “It was lovely to see so many families going back to basics with nature and it brought back memories from my own childhood. It’s such a positive event and a real escape into the woods.”

Hayley Youell, lead artist at Creative Recovery, said: “The weekend is designed to uplift spirits and enhance wellbeing by encouraging families to connect with nature and creativity. We’ll be helping people to rediscover the magic of the ancient woods by bringing them to life with story, characters and song – and there will be lots of fun along the way.”

The Wombwell Woods Weekend is free to all families but booking is required for some of the activities. Visit for further details.