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Findhorn's Wild Things! working to reconnect elderly with nature

By Lorna Thompson

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A FINDHORN charity is seeking helpers and funds for a project to reconnect vulnerable and isolated older people with nature and communities.

Wild Things! has more than 16 years’ experience working with children, young people and adults, but its new Silver Saplings opens up its offering to older people.

Silver Saplings is a holistic wellbeing project to alleviate loneliness, isolation and poor mental and physical health among vulnerable older people. It provides opportunities for all ages to reconnect with the natural environment and the wider community.

Luke Strachan, Wild Things! chief executive officer, said: "Our new project has arisen as a direct response to the very clear need to enable older people to access the many health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in nature, while providing opportunities for inter-generational socialisation and learning in outdoor contexts."

Wild Things! plans to roll out a four-year, scaled-up version of the project this year. It aims to reach a minimum of 3056 participants over this time, delivering 900 activity days between Aviemore, Fochabers, Elgin and Inverness, and create more than 2000 volunteering opportunities.

Wild Things! runs Silver Saplings, a holistic wellbeing project for older people.
Wild Things! runs Silver Saplings, a holistic wellbeing project for older people.

Mr Strachan said: "The project is, in fact, several different programmes for all ages, interweaving together to create inter-generational volunteering opportunities that bring communities closer together, while creating a more cohesive, community-led approach to enjoying and caring for local natural environments."

The project is based around "green prescriptions", whereby people can improve their health and wellbeing by regularly engaging with nature. Mr Strachan said there was growing evidence that such engagement can build confidence, soothe depression symptoms, and build physical and mental resilience.

Mr Strachan added: "We’ve received amazing feedback and we're so excited to roll this project out across north Scotland. We’re still fundraising to make this work possible."

A Just Giving page has been set up for the project at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/wildthings-silversaplings.

For more information phone 01309 690450 or email elizabeth@wild-things.org.uk. Wild Things! has released a video about Silver Saplings which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm0KdH7lwT4&feature=youtu.be

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