What is your role at St Nicks and what training, employment and interests led you to this role?
I am the Ecotherapy Creative Writing/Nature Arts tutor at St Nicks. I have over 20 years of professional experience in arts, heritage, culture and a specialism in community arts, writing and recovery. I enjoy promoting the benefits of the 5 ways to wellbeing in my work, which include taking notice, giving and connecting. St Nicks is a great organisation to offer these through the programmes it provides and I was really excited to be offered the role. I am also Art and Design Development Manager at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospital where I am also co-project-managing over 20 garden spaces for staff wellbeing in the Trust. It’s an exciting challenge and the spaces have already had much positive feedback.
What does a typical session involve at the Art based Creative Writing group?
Each session begins with a welcome and overview of the topic for the session. Then the group will go together out into the Nature Reserve – sometimes just walking, sometimes with a theme or word to start thinking about or quick observational sketches. For example, this block of sessions has looked at colour, movement and growth. After around 20 minutes we regroup back at St Nicks and spend some time writing and drawing – we have around four prompts with just enough time to discuss, write, draw and, of course, have a cuppa!
What aspects of Ecotherapy are you passionate about and why is Ecotherapy so important?
I think it’s so important to spend time outdoors, learning, reflecting, working and enjoying. I’m passionate about exploring green spaces and creating opportunities to thrive. I love walking, whatever the weather, it gives me a chance to feel better physically and also mentally. Being outdoors connects you to the world around you and it allows you to take time to share and connect with others. Ecotherapy is important because it improves our mental wellbeing, through trying new skills or socialising, and lowering stress levels.
What would you say to somebody who is thinking about enrolling on to Ecotherapy?
Go for it – you will benefit in a multitude of ways. I’m always learning – I love the chance to hear others’ expertise and then explore that through writing and drawing. It opens up a whole new world and it’s great because you do that with others.
What’s your favourite way to connect with nature?
I do love walking, going into woodland or to the beach. Even getting lost on a walk can be an adventure! Exploring what is right in front of me – seeing growth, new beginnings and nature through the seasons. I love feeling at one with the environment, close to trees, the ground, looking up at the sky; it makes me think, it allows creativity. I love dancing at festivals on the grass, it makes me feel happy. I love learning from others how one thing changes another – all the connections. How we can all make small changes to improve our environments and to appreciate the natural world.
Do you have a top tip for others who want to improve their wellbeing through the connection with nature?
Open your door and nature will be there right in front of you, feel the wind and sun on your face. Join a course, join a group of people who you can share and learn with.
Our Creative Writing Ecotherapy group currently meets on Wednesday mornings between 10:00 – 12:00 in a series of 6 week blocks. The next 6 week block starts on the 15/09/21.