St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Meet the team: Ecotherapy Project Assistant Rachel Hall

Rachel digging a garden.
Rachel gets stuck in to some gardening.

What is your role at St Nicks?

I started working as the Ecotherapy Project Assistant in May 2021. Previously I’ve worked for charities and in local government roles but during the last lockdown I decided I needed a new challenge. I have always really enjoyed being out in nature and felt it can have a great benefit not just for our physical health but also our mental wellbeing.

What does a typical day involve?

I help to support Kathy Sturgess (Ecotherapy Manager) in the ecotherapy sessions at St Nicks. I also assist with the admin aspects of the project. My role is quite varied. Some days I can be out all day on site with the ecotherapy groups, such as our Plot to Plate group at the allotment in the morning, then back at St Nicks with our Bearing Fruit group in the afternoon. Other days I’m more office based, doing data entry, preparing social media posts, promoting groups, and writing newsletters. What I love about the role is the variety of nature centred ecotherapy activities that we offer, from our Gardening and Creative Writing groups, to Bushcraft and Willow Weaving groups, there really is something for everyone. It’s been fantastic to see the impact that the Ecotherapy Project at St Nicks has had on the wellbeing of our participants.

How do you connect to Nature?

I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors, especially as my grandparents had a house in the countryside in Ireland and most school holidays I would be there, roaming around for hours across fields, peat bogs and down to the beach. These experiences gave me a real respect for nature. My connection to nature has also followed me into being an adult. I love going for long walks and cycling out into green spaces in and around Yorkshire as much as I can. Being outside helps to gives me a different perspective. I feel more present and I think it makes you feel a part of something bigger than yourself.  Especially with the covid pandemic, it’s been so important to notice the small things and I’ve found it really helpful to look to nature when things have been uncertain.  I have a really small garden but I’ve really gotten into planting pots, and growing herbs in the kitchen window. Even on days when I haven’t been able to get out much, I’ve enjoyed seeing my flowers grow and it’s been interesting to see the seasons develop. Living in the modern world, we can forget that we are part of nature and for me it’s really important to keep that connection.

What would you say to somebody who is thinking about joining the Ecotherapy groups?

Just give it a try. All our groups are really welcoming and supportive. Each ecotherapy group has a tutor who guides the sessions and is also supported by Kathy or myself. You need no previous experience and the groups are free to attend.

We have a real variety of ecotherapy groups: Plot to Plate, Bearing Fruit, Discover Nature, Nordic Walking, Art based Creative Writing, Bushcraft, Willow Weaving, Words from the Wild, Get Gardening.

If you are interested in learning more about Ecotherapy at St Nicks or joining one of our groups, please contact Kathy Sturgess

Find out more information about our Ecotherapy project here

4 August 2021 | Categories: Ecotherapy | Tags: Bearing Fruit, bushcraft, creative writing, creativity, discover nature, garden, gardening, mental health, nature, nature connectedness, nordic walking, plot to plate, staff, support, team, wild, willow weaving