The Woodland Project

The Woodland Project in East Sussex offers days out in nature for families who have a child with a severe physical or learning disability, families who have a child experiencing mental health issues and 11-18 year olds who are accessing mental health services. 

        

The Woodland Project allows these families to spend quality time together, relax in their natural surroundings, free of distractions and judgement. Run by Circle of Life Rediscovery and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, the project is funded solely through donations and external funding. 

It’s hard to imagine a life where leaving your house is difficult, where you face living with judgement and constant, significant levels of stress. The families that come to the Woodland Project,  often live with a relentless barrage of physical assault from their child, frequently lack of sleep, and hold the sadness of seeing their child self harm.      

The days encourage families to put their worries to one side, mingle and laugh knowing that their child’s behaviour is not the focus of attention.  They support young people to feel safe, move through difficult feelings, find hope and be okay with who they are.

Each family is supported by a Circle of Life Rediscovery team member and CAMHS FISS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service Family Intensive Support Service) member. We share food, set up family & child-led activities, provide wellbeing moments e.g head massage, and offer a range of swings, hammocks, tools for crafting and fire-making!

We expect families to see their children having many ‘firsts’, from trying new activities, being more independent and experiencing risky activities. 

 

So far over 150 families have benefitted from The Woodland Project. Feedback from parents, families and external professionals indicates these woodland days are hugely powerful and dramatically benefit around 98% of participants. 

Funding also supports young people with mental health difficulties. We are currently running a long-term nature-based programme. This is a life changing training for a group of capable but vulnerable young adults (18 – 25 years) who are attending our Young Nature Leaders Initiative and gaining a Level 2 Forest School assistant qualification.

 A participant on our Teenage Programme, 2018.

Support The Woodland Project

The Woodland Project has just been shortlisted to receive a cash award from the Tesco South East Region Bags of Help Initiative. You can vote for our Project in store at the Hailsham Tesco and Tesco Express stores from 1st November until 31st December 2018.

If you would like to support the future of The Woodland Project please click on the button below to donate or contact us for further details. Thank you for your support.



The Woodland Project Report

With much support we have compiled our Woodland Project Report written in collaboration with the late Dr Martin Jordan. Please download the report here.

Awards:

  • ITV's People's Project Winner 2017
  • 2015 Sussex Partnership Positive Practice Awards
  • Highly Commended in the National Innovation in Child, Adolescent and Young People’s Mental Health Award
  • Environmental Achievement Award at the SPARK Awards 2016

Photos

  • Photos from our Family Woodland Days can be seen here.
  • Photos from our 31st March Celebration Day can be seen here.
  • Visit our Blog to read more about this project.
  • You can also listen to our BBC Sussex radio interview about the Project here.

The Peoples Projects Funded by Sussex Community Foundation

 

“I can’t express enough how much relaxing, healing and peace there has been for me today.”


"We had a brilliant day and felt very relaxed. The children loved the woods and the quiet life and thoroughly enjoyed on how to make camp fires and cook on a camp fire. This environment is really perfect and safe for children, who love the outdoors and learning new things. The staff were brilliant and made us feel very welcome and very supportive. Would love to come back again as the day was great and the kids were kept busy from beginning to end.”

"The trees have been drinking away my stresses!."

This project is one of the most valuable things we have. I don’t think of it as therapy when I am here, it feels like a family day.  It is difficult to find things we can do with my daughter. Here there are understanding people, who are able to keep her occupied which enables us to have a family day out. Often we are protecting her or others. Here it is relaxing, it’s not about protection and this is really, really rare.

“We have never used a service for the whole family before. We don’t get out much, I think this is the longest my son has spent outside in living memory. This is phenomenally good. He is safe and the girls are happily occupied, we haven’t had that kind of freedom before, today has given us a different perspective that it is possible.” 

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